High-level talks between the UK and EU have been suspended after one of the EU’s negotiators tested positive for Covid. However, both sides have said their teams are ready to continue working in accordance with guidelines.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted on Thursday that one of the officials on his team had “tested positive for Covid-19.” He said he decided, along with his British counterpart David Frost, “to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period.”

However, the teams will continue their work “in full respect of guidelines,” Barnier added.

In turn, Frost tweeted that he was in close contact with Barnier about the situation. “The health of our teams comes first,” he said, thanking the EU Commission “for their immediate help and support.”

I am close contact with @michelbarnier about the situation. The health of our teams comes first. I would like to thank the @EU_Commission for their immediate help and support.

London and Brussels are still discussing the implications of the ongoing trade talks, and negotiators will act in line with public health guidelines, a UK government spokesman said.

Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, said earlier in the day that the talks on a new trade agreement were at “a critical stage,” adding that they could still yield a “comprehensive and balanced” deal.

The UK’s transition out of the EU ends on December 31. “The time pressure is huge and we all realize that time is running out,” Tuppurainen told Reuters. Barnier has the full support of the bloc’s 27 member states, she added.

The UK and the EU are trying to come to an agreement on several issues, with the main sticking points being fishing rights, the level of state aid for companies, and a dispute settlement mechanism to oversee any deal.

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