Ferry shipping companies that transport UK passengers across the North Sea to The Netherlands are not permitted from Monday, December 21, as the Dutch government tries to prevent a highly-contagious variant of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) from spreading through the country.
Following a considerable rise in infections in the United Kingdom, many parts of the country went back into a strict lockdown over the weekend.
On Sunday, December 20, Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge sent a letter to Parliament announcing the Netherlands banned passenger flights from the United Kingdom effective immediately, and for an initial duration of about 10 days. Belgium followed suit with a ban including trains, meaning Eurostar rail service from the United Kingdom could no longer reach the Netherlands.
Rumours began to surface in media Sunday night that the Dutch Cabinet would extend the ban to include the ferry services, such as DFDS Seaways, Stena Line and P&O Ferries. For some, the ferries were the last chance for residents of the Netherlands to make it back before Christmas or possibly longer in case the travel ban is extended.
DFDS Seaways cancelled Sunday evening ferry service blaming restrictions from the government. As a result, 160 of its passengers were stranded, including Dutch people who wanted to return to their country.
The company said on social media:
"Further information on future sailings will be provided as soon as possible."
P&O Ferries stated:
"The authorities in Rotterdam have confirmed that regretfully all customers travelling from the UK (other than freight) will not be permitted to enter the Netherlands."
In a statement Sunday night, Stena Line said:
"Due to the travel restrictions announced by the Dutch government, we are not permitted to allow any travel passengers to sail with us from Harwich to Hoek van Holland until further notice."