France to reopen border to trucks from England, but says drivers must pass Covid-19 test

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The UK and French governments said on Tuesday they would reopen their border to UK trucks after the busy border closed for 48 hours in a bid to keep a new strain of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in England.

The closure has led to lines of thousands of trucks, some carrying spoiled fresh produce, on the roads leading to Channel ports.

About a quarter of UK merchandise trade takes place from the Port of Dover, as well as the nearby Channel Tunnel, and its usual speed makes it the preferred route for fresh produce, such as fish, vegetables and fruits. At this time of year, UK supermarkets are heavily reliant on the route to import tomatoes, lettuce and berries.
Rail, air and sea services will resume on Wednesday, with all people traveling to France from the UK having to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the previous 72 hours, the UK Department for Transport said on Tuesday.

Truck drivers, regardless of nationality, will need to undergo a rapid coronavirus test before departure. Lateral flow, or antigen, tests can detect Covid-19 – including the new variant described by British scientists last week – in 30 minutes. A standard PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction, may take 24 hours to return the results.

The French government will also conduct sample testing on drivers carrying freight to the UK

A statement from the office of French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that from midnight Wednesday, French nationals and other people living in the European Union would be allowed to enter the country, provided they tested negative. within the previous 72 hours.

The French authorities have said that a PCR test or an antigen test would be adequate, although the antigen test must come from a supplier approved by the French authorities.

Dozens of countries in Europe and beyond have closed their borders to travelers from the UK, hoping to prevent the introduction of the variant, which is spreading rapidly in London and parts of south-east England. Some countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, have noted a handful of cases, while the Irish government, where cases are also increasing rapidly, says it assumes tension is already in the country.

Earlier on Tuesday, the European Commission advised the 27 EU countries to ban non-essential travel from the UK, but recommended that they keep their borders open to transport workers, without quarantine orders nor tests, to maintain supply chains.

For many truck drivers, the delays bode well for the delays they had expected from January 1, when Britain will leave the customs union and the EU’s single market, requiring extensive checks at frontiers of imports and exports for the first time in decades.

The shutdown also disrupted some manufacturing industries. Toyota engine Corp.

said it was shutting down a French factory and a UK factory two days before their scheduled holiday shutdowns, and another UK factory a day earlier, due to expected parts shortages due to the closure of ports and barriers wider to enter and exit Great Britain. .

Write to Stephen Fidler at [email protected]

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