France will relax a temporary UK travel ban introduced after a new variant of coronavirus emerged, the prime minister's office said this evening.

EU nationals and residents of EU countries will be allowed to enter from tomorrow providing they can show a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours old.

The tests must be of a type capable of detecting the new variant that emerged in Britain, the office said in a statement.

People who "must carry out essential travel" will also be allowed into the country, it said.

The European Commission has urged EU countries to lift travel bans imposed on Britain, where the spread of the new coronavirus variant has spurred global panic just as vaccines are being rolled out worldwide.

More than 2,000 lorries are backed up in Kent, unable to make the crossing to France, with drivers having to spend another night sleeping in their cabs.

French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri said: "Planes, boats and Eurostar trains will resume service as of tomorrow morning.

"French nationals, people living in France and those with a legitimate reason will have to be carrying a negative test."

However, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged lorry drivers not to head to Kent in the hope of boarding a ferry or train.

Mr Shapps said: "Good progress today and agreement with the French Government on borders.

"We will provide an update on hauliers later this evening, but hauliers must still not travel to Kent this evening."

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The temporary ban on hauliers caused concern that the UK could face shortages of some fresh food products over a Christmas period already dampened by strict coronavirus restrictions.

Earlier, the European Commission recommended that EU member states lift the blanket bans some had imposed on arrivals from Britain to allow essential journeys to resume.

"Flight and train bans should be discontinued given the need to ensure essential travel and avoid supply chain disruptions," it said.

Much of the world closed its borders to the UK over recent days after it identified a highly infectious new coronavirus strain.