Since Wednesday, December 23, France has allowed the return of drivers stranded on the British side, on condition of presenting a negative Covid test. More than 10,000 tests had been carried out, 24 of which were positive.
More than 4,500 heavy goods vehicles stranded around the English port of Dover have been able to leave the United Kingdom since Wednesday, December 23 thanks to a massive Covid-19 screening operation involving more than 1,000 soldiers, the British authorities announced on Friday December 25.
To allow a faster return to normal, the United Kingdom and France have in fact agreed to exceptionally maintain cross-Channel, sea and rail traffic on Christmas Day.
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After 48 hours of total closure due to a new strain of coronavirus, France has since Wednesday morning allowed the return of drivers stuck on the British side, provided they present a negative test. Thousands of them found themselves waiting several days before being able to return home, some having parked their vehicles on the runway of an old airport, others directly on the highway. On Christmas Day, on the M20 motorway leading to Dover, drivers told AFP that they had only advanced 11 kilometers in 19 hours.
As of Friday evening, more than 4,500 trucks were able to set off again, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Twitter. More than 10,000 tests had been carried out, of which 24 were positive, he said. Normally, up to 10,000 trucks pass through Dover each day, the main English port for crossing the Channel.
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«Although significant progress has been made as hundreds of vehicles have been able to leave the UK, more screening is needed as new vehicles continue to arrive every hourThe ministry said on Twitter. France sent a team of 26 firefighters to help with screening, more than 1,000 meals and Red Cross volunteers. The soldiers will also participate in the distribution of water and food to stranded drivers: to strengthen screening capacities, the Ministry of Defense has announced to deploy 800 additional soldiers, in addition to the 300 already mobilized. Ferry companies only take vehicles in the Dover-Calais direction.
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On the day of Thursday, December 24 alone, 1,000 heavy goods vehicles crossed from Dover to this port in northern France and the movement accelerated on Friday, told AFP the deputy managing director of the company which operates the ports of Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer, Benoît Rochet. “At this rate, the situation should be completely resolved tomorrow (Saturday) today“, he added.