This Tuesday, December 22 at midnight, the United Kingdom had to come out of its forced isolation because of a new variant of the coronavirus. After 48 hours of health blockade since Sunday, France announced in the evening, in consultation with its European partners, a partial and very controlled resumption of travel between Great Britain and the continent. On the express condition of presenting, upon boarding at stations, airports and ports, a negative test for Covid-19 dating less than 72 hours. French nationals, in particular, will thus be able to return to France, putting an end to long hours of anguish or depression for many workers – truck drivers included – or students residing on British soil (some 250,000 French people alone. London) who thought they saw their family Christmas Eve plans fly away.
The measure, coordinated between the Twenty-Seven during a long meeting of ambassadors in Brussels on Tuesday, also concerns nationals of the European area, as well as the British and nationals of third countries usually residing in France or in the European Union. . The Matignon press release also provides for a recovery, eagerly awaited on the eve of the holidays, for merchandise traffic. “France has a special situation, it forms a sort of hub where 80% of goods coming from the United Kingdom to all of Europe pass, in particular via the Channel tunnel”, underlines Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for Business European.
Authorized antigen tests
From this Wednesday morning, planes, Eurostar trains and ferries were to resume service. “We had encouraged our nationals from Sunday evening, via our embassy, to carry out PCR tests to be sure of having the results as soon as possible”, explains Clément Beaune. In any event, to “make departures more fluid”, the French authorities authorize antigenic tests, which are less expensive and above all faster, but considered to be less reliable than PCR. A list of antigenic tests “validated by health and operational authorities in Great Britain” was sent out to the expatriate community on Tuesday evening by the embassy and consulates.
In recent days, several expatriates had also questioned the high cost of tests in England, reaching 100 to 200 pounds (between 110 and 220 euros), some even saying they were resigned to giving up a return to France because of this cost. If the French government is not considering free access, it nevertheless specifies that it is ready to monitor, through its consular services, any sensitive situations.
A logistical challenge in the case of truck drivers
There remains the more delicate case of truck drivers. The latter, French or other nationalities, are obviously concerned by the resumption of goods traffic, but we still have to move on to the operational phase. In other words, to organize the carrying out of tests for hundreds and hundreds of truckers currently stranded in car parks or along the roads of Kent, towards the port of Dover. There is a logistical challenge to be met in record time by the British authorities, since shipments of perishable foodstuffs – seafood in particular – are sometimes already in an urgent situation.
Finally, if Germany has already announced that it is aligning itself with the protocol unveiled by Paris, it is not certain that all European countries – some of which, like Italy, have taken strict cut-off measures with Great Britain – relax the health blockade as much. New decisions are expected to be announced on Wednesday.