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As it happenedended1608756591

UK travel ban: Germans airlift food to Yorkshire as Dover blockage causes ‘severe transport delays’

Latest developments as coronavirus disruption felt around the world

Tom Batchelor
Wednesday 23 December 2020 20:49 GMT
Truck driver criticises government's handling of France border crisis

Hauliers are being urged to avoid Kent despite the reopening of the French border, as protesting lorry drivers closed a road and clashed with police after tempers flared over delays in crossing the Channel just two days before Christmas.  

One man was arrested for obstructing a highway in Dover on Wednesday, while two others were later seen being led away in handcuffs following a scuffle as tensions began to flare once again between hauliers and police officers at the Kent port.  

The first passengers arrived in France from the UK in the early hours of Wednesday as part of a deal to restore travel between the two countries after a wave of bans left travellers stranded and supply lines severed.  

More than 6,000 HGVs are being held in Kent, with drivers being tested for Covid-19 before they are allowed into France.

There were 3,750 vehicles at a lorry holding facility in Manston as of 6.15pm on Wednesday, along with 632 HGVs on the M20 as part of Operation Stack and 1,690 in Operation Brock, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

As a mass testing programme got underway on Wednesday, the first 20 trucks entered the Eurotunnel to make the crossing by early evening. 

However transport secretary Grant Shapps said there continued to be "severe delays" and communities secretary Robert Jenrick warned it could take a "few days" to clear the backlog of lorries waiting to cross into France, despite the travel restrictions being eased.  

Meanwhile, a Lufthansa Boeing 777 cargo plane touched down at Doncaster-Sheffield airport this afternoon with lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus fruit destined for major supermarkets.  



Hauliers urged not to travel to Kent despite border reopening

Priti Patel has urged lorry drivers to stay away from Kent after the border reopened with France. 

The home secretary tweeted: "The UK-French border is reopening. Priority is to get lorries moving & mass testing is underway.

“We urge hauliers not to travel to Kent as we work to alleviate congestion - travelling now will slow things down. Tourist travellers who are not French residents should not travel.”

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 12:44

MoD deploys 170 personnel to test drivers

The Ministry of Defence has deployed 170 personnel to help with testing lorry drivers hoping to reach France from Dover, after negative Covid tests were deemed a condition of entry following talks between London and Paris. 

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 12:48

Testing chaos angers stranded truckers

Lorry drivers stranded outside Dover have expressed their anger at the way the disruption has been handled. 

"They talk about some Covid test but there are no Covid tests," Blazej Pankiewicz, a trucker from Torun, Poland, told Reuters in Dover surrounded by angry drivers.

"They asked for a PCR Covid-19 test and we don't have anywhere to do that," Stella Vradzheva, a van driver from Strelcha in Bulgaria, told Reuters. 

She said: "The roads are closed so if we go we can't come back so we are stuck here. We don't have anything to eat, we don't have anything to drink, we don't have anything - nobody cares about us.”

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 12:54

Asian travel bans push number of countries limiting UK flights close to 60

Japan, South Korea and the Philippines have suspended air links with Britain.

On Wednesday morning, Katsunobu Kato, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary, announced a temporary ban on visitors arriving from the UK.

A South Korean health official also announced flights from the UK would be suspended until the end of the year.

And Philippine Airlines has said the Manila-London connection was being cancelled until 2021.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 13:01

Frances reopens its borders to UK arrivals - pictures

Passengers arrive at the Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord train station on Wednesday (REUTERS)
The information panel displays the schedules of the next departures in front of the passenger terminal on Wednesday in Calais (Getty Images)
But lorries still queue up on the A2 on the outskirts of Dover (EPA)
Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 13:13

Driver testing underway, says transport secretary

"Testing has begun as we look to get traffic moving again between the UK and France," the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said.

He tweeted: “However, French border police only acting on agreement from this morning and severe delays continue. Please avoid Kent while the backlog is cleared. Arriving in the area will delay your journey.” 

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 13:34

Sweden extends ban on flights from UK

Swedish authorities have decided to extend a ban on flights from Britain until the new year, the country’s transport agency said.

"I can confirm that the government has decided to extend the ban on passenger flights from Britain until the New Year," a Transport Agency spokesman told Reuters.

Sweden has also issued a general travel ban on all foreigners arriving from Britain and Denmark. 

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 13:39

Protests at Dover as man lies down underneath lorry

Truck drivers protesting about delays reaching France are blocking the carriageway out of the Eastern Docks in Dover, with one man lying down underneath the front of a lorry before being moved by officers.

Tempers began to fray when a group of hauliers clashed with police officers as vehicles began to be moved.

Drivers expressed concerns that they would lose their place in the queue to board ferries during the process to get a test.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 13:43

German freighter brings 80 tonnes of fruits and vegetables

A cargo jet operated by German flag carrier Lufthansa has landed at Doncaster Sheffield airport with 80 tonnes of fruits and vegetables.

The airline tweeted it was “currently examining whether additional special cargo flights can be offered during the next days”.

The move comes amid a warning that supplies of fresh produce in the UK could be affected by travel bans and border closures. 

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 14:01

Arrest after lorry drivers clash with police in Dover

A man has been arrested after lorry drivers were seen scuffling with police at the port of Dover this morning as hauliers continued their long wait to cross the English Channel into France.  

Kent Police said the man was being held for obstructing a highway at Dover.  

Adam Forrest has more details on this below:

One arrested as angry lorry drivers clash with police in Dover

Frustration rises on Kent coast among ‘very, very angry’ truckers

Chiara Giordano23 December 2020 14:21

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