The logjam of
thousands of Europe-bound trucks stuck in southeast England will take days to
clear because drivers must show a negative coronavirus test before they can
cross the channel.
The British army
was mobilized to help the National Health Service, the country’s health care
system, set up facilities to offer rapid coronavirus tests to drivers, who have
been stuck in Britain since Sunday night, when France blocked passage to
prevent the spread of a variation of the coronavirus that has swept through
parts of England.
Results though available in 30 minutes were considered unreliable
Results from the
test are usually available within 30 minutes, although the test is considered
unreliable by some health professionals.
Trucks are parked
around the ports, on closed sections of the motorway and at Manston Airport, a
closed airfield nearby that has been turned into a giant parking lot for
reportedly told they needed to go to the airport to take the tests.
Frustrations have been building and skirmishes have broken out among drivers,
other waiting passengers and the police.
Hundreds of other
freight drivers lined up along the motorway were told that tests would be
administered to them where they were
cautioned that it could take days to clear out the more than 5,000 Europe-bound
trucks jammed into the area.
If a driver tests positive after PCR test, he would be offered hotel
accommodations to self-isolate for 10 days
“I think it will
take a few days to work our way through,” Robert Jenrick, (not Robert Jenkins,
as was reported earlier here) a government minister, said on Sky News on
Wednesday morning. Any drivers who received a positive test result, he said,
would be offered a more accurate test, called a PCR test, which takes longer to
process. If that was also positive they would be offered hotel accommodations
to self-isolate for 10 days.
About 8,000 to 10,000 trucks in Britain waiting to cross the border
Rod McKenzie, the
director of policy at Road Haulage Association, which represents the British
road transport industry, said there were probably 8,000 to 10,000 trucks in
Britain waiting to cross the border.
Trucks in Europe
carrying goods to Britain were still allowed to pass this week, but their
numbers had declined amid fears that the drivers would be marooned once they
crossed into Britain.
The crisis at the
border has raised concerns about food supplies around the Christmas holidays,
because Britain relies on importing fresh fruit and vegetables, especially in