The Port of Dover has halted all exports to France for at least 48 hours, urging freight and passenger customers to stay away.
It comes after France joined Ireland and a growing list of European countries to impose travel restrictions on the UK over a new strain of coronavirus.
Transport secretary Grant Schapps warned of “significant disruption” in Kent, adding: “We’re asking the public & particularly hauliers not to travel to Kent ports or other routes to France.”
French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tweeted on Sunday that the country was suspending all traffic from the UK from midnight for at least 48 hours.
Rod McKenzie, from the Road Haulage Association, told Sky News that 10,000 lorries a day crossed between Dover and Calais in France.
He added: “Brexit stockpiling is one thing, the Christmas rush is another thing, but the absolute hammer blow now is to close the borders for 48 hours.
“That is a serious disruption of the all important supply chain.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned the closure of France to UK traffic – including lorries – would create “difficulties for UK imports and exports in the busy Christmas period”.
Andrew Opie, the BRC’s director of food and sustainability, said any “prolonged” disruption would be a problem in the run up to the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.
“While goods can enter from France, few haulage firms will be willing to send trucks and drivers across to the UK without a guarantee they can return to the EU in a timely manner,” he said.
Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, which is based in Tunbridge Wells, tweeted: “Logistics UK is aware of news that accompanied freight to France is being not allowed for 48 hours; we are concerned about the welfare of drivers and we are urgently seeking more information for our members.”