The British government has again delayed the introduction of new checks on products coming from the EU post-Brexit amid continuing disruption from the pandemic.
Full checks on UK goods heading to the European Union have been implemented since the start of this year, with new measures for food and farming imports going the other way scheduled for the end of the Brexit transition period.
However, this deadline was extended amid the outbreak of COVID-19 early this year, with Boris Johnson's government announcing in March that the changes would come into effect in October 2021 instead.
Now, though, an announcement has been made stating that they will be postponed again until next year in a bid to reduce red tape as businesses try to cope with other issues.
A statement from the Cabinet Office said the requirement to pre-notify British officials about food and agricultural imports from Europe will now come into effect on January 1st 2022, while the introduction of export health certificates for live animals and animal products will be introduced on July 1st.
It added that this new timetable will provide businesses with more time in which to adjust to new processes relating to border controls.
Cabinet Office Minister Lord David Frost insisted the government remains on track to provide the necessary infrastructure for the controls, but said: "We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border."
In reaction to the news, the British Chambers of Commerce said it was sensible of the government to delay additional checks given ongoing problems with trader readiness, skills shortages and supply issues of some products in shops and supermarkets.
Indeed, chairman of Tesco John Allen recently told the BBC's World at One food retailers are struggling with Brexit-related supply chain issues that could leave supermarket shelves empty at Christmas, while the Co-op's boss Steve Murrells said current shortages are the worst he has seen, City AM reported.