Details have been published after 2230 this evening by the Department for Transport on the terms of reopening of the French border with the UK to trucks and lorries from 6am on Wednesday morning.
Drivers will be able to make the crossing from Dover or EuroTunnel to Calais provided that they have proof of a negative COVID-19 lateral flow test. Hauliers are strongly urged by DfT not to travel to Kent until further notice while the backlog is cleared.
The reopening of the border should begin to alleviate the disruption which began on Sunday evening, although it will take several days before the backlog is cleared, and before lorries and drivers are in the right locations to make journeys with products to the UK.
- Current situation (22 December, 2300 GMT)
- 3,000 lorries held at Manston Airport site pending release. Further 1,000 vehicles on M20 or nearer the ports seeking release in addition
- Operation Brock continued today with diversions of vehicles to Manston Airport site.
- Expecting new test lateral flow system for drivers from 6am Wednesday at Manston Airport site to take 3 or more days to clear the existing backlog of lorries and trucks.
- European Commission Recommendation today to member states indicated there should not be blanket travel bans, nor restrictions on flow of goods to/from the UK. Measures should only be taken in a co-ordinated manner.
- Text of Protocol issued by DfT at 2230 GMT tonight urging hauliers not to travel to Kent until further notice. The French Government will also carry out sample testing on incoming freight to the UK.
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also approved the temporary relaxation of drivers hours for hauliers from midnight tonight in GB (22 December). This could apply until 22 January 2021 but will be kept under review. A similar relaxation will apply in relation to NI.
- Next steps
- Lateral flow test system for all drivers (regardless of nationality) seeking to cross from the UK to France from 6am Wednesday at the Manston Airport site. Expected will take 3 or more days to clear the existing backlog of lorries and trucks in Kent.
- New French travel measures from midnight tonight replacing the travel ban on people travelling from the UK to France, but still only permitting EU nationals resident in the EU or those UK or other third country nationals with permanent residency in the EU to cross by train, sea or aircraft having presented a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours. These measures will apply until at least 6 January.
- French health ministry to publish list of approved lateral flow tests able to pick up the mutated strain of COVID-19.
- Protocol to be reviewed on 31 December but could continue in place until 6 January. Operation Stack to remain in place at Manston Airport and the M20.
- BRC activity
- Raised issues across the UK Government seeking effective action by end of today to resolve problems.
- Andrew Opie appeared before special meeting of the BEIS Select Committee on Tuesday highlighting the problems and issues for retail.
- Very active media response since Sunday to keep issue high profile from an industry perspective and prevent panic buying and stockpiling.
- Avoided conflation with the wider container ports issues (generally a global issue but focusing the UK Government on what they could do to help alleviate the Short Straits crossing situation).