Michel Barnier has announced that high-level Brexit talks have been suspended after it was discovered that a member of the EU negotiating team has Covid-19.
The EU chief negotiator said that teams of officials will continue to work on the text of a trade deal, but that he and his UK counterpart David Frost had “decided to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period”.
UK negotiators have been holding talks with the EU team in Brussels since Sunday, with hopes rising that a deal could be reached in the coming days.
Talks have been focused on the remaining key sticking points of rights for the EU fishing fleet in British waters, “level playing field” guarantees for business and the question of how to enforce any deal.
The rest of the treaty text — estimated at 1,800 pages — is largely drafted, even if negotiating chapters are not formally closed.
The two sides are seeking to conclude a deal before time runs out for it to be ratified before the end of the Britain’s post-Brexit transition period on January 1.
One participant in the negotiations said that some officials now needed to go into self-isolation because of the discovery of the Covid case.