Thousands of truckers stuck in Kent await coronavirus tests [LIVE]

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Thousands of truckers stuck in Kent await coronavirus tests [LIVE]

Welcome to our live coverage of the situation in Kent, where thousands of lorry drivers are set to be tested for coronavirus to allow them to enter France and return to their families.

An agreement to reopen the UK-France border and allow both accompanied freight services and some passenger services to resume has been reached by the UK and French Governments.

However, negative coronavirus tests are required in order to enter France, forcing the UK into organising rapid testing for as many as 10,000 lorry drivers stranded in Kent.

Follow all the latest developments as they happen here:

22.12.2020 18:01

That’s it from us for today

It’s been another dramatic but tortuous and agonizingly frustrating day for lorry drivers stuck in Kent.

For the last nine and a half hours we’ve tried to bring you the latest developments from multiple sources, with the main priority being to provide information for the lorry drivers in Kent themselves.

We sincerely hope that those staying in their cab tonight have better access to necessities and facilities than they appeared to have yesterday.

We’ll be back early tomorrow morning to bring you the latest updates on what has happened overnight.

22.12.2020 17:57

Truck bans still in place in many European countries

Lorry drivers who escape the mayhem in Kent could be faced with truck bans in a number of countries as they try to get home to their families this Christmas. As it stands, truck bans are due to be implemented in countries such as France, Austria and Germany.

More details can be found on our site here.

22.12.2020 17:44

Why don’t you put toilets on the road? 

A video published by the AFP news agency just minutes ago shows one driver’s frustration over the lack of toilet facilities being provided by the authorities.

22.12.2020 17:39

RHA: Dover Port gridlocked

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett has given an update to Sky News. He admits it will take days to stop the gridlock and says that the situation is counter-productive in terms of trying to limit the spread of the virus.

Burnett also told Sky News the French „have a lot to answer for” and speculates the move from the French authorities was motivated by Brexit.

22.12.2020 17:32

Daily Mail: around 200 tests being carried out per hour

Around 200 coronavirus tests are currently being conducted, reports the Daily Mail.

Should this pace continue, it will be several days before all the truckers can cross into France.

22.12.2020 17:25

Testing about to start at the port of Dover

It’s taken longer than a lot of drivers would have hoped, but it seems that the testing point at the port of Dover is ready.

22.12.2020 16:40

UK Government finally release details of testing for lorry drivers; tests to take 40 minutes

The UK Government have finally delivered a clear statement on how the testing system for lorry drivers will work.

The statement reads as follows:

Do not travel to Kent

HGV drivers should not travel to Kent until further notice.

There are major delays and disruption at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.

We will let you know as soon as the situation changes.

Where to get your COVID-test

COVID-19 testing has started for HGV drivers already in Kent.

If you are already heading to the Port of Dover, you must go to Manston at this postcode: CT12 5FE. There are welfare facilities at this location.

If you are already heading to Eurotunnel you must go to Junction 8 of the M20 and join the queue there.

To leave England you must undertake a rapid-COVID test. This is mandated by the UK and French governments.

Failure to comply will lead to you being turned away from all ports.

COVID testing is not available at any medical facility in the Kent area. If you visit a medical facility you will be turned away.

You must not leave your vehicle to try and be tested at another site.

At Manston and Junction 8 of the M20

At the test sites you must be with, and remain in, your vehicles (unless requested to leave your vehicle by a member of Kent Police or medical staff). Please adhere to social distancing.

Once tested, it will take 40 minutes to get a result.

If your result is negative, you will be directed to your departure point.

If your result is positive, further information will be provided on site and support will be available.

Food and water will be provided for as long as you are waiting.

We are doing everything we can as quickly as possible to help you continue on your journey.

Thank you for your patience.

22.12.2020 16:42

Logistics UK wants photos from drivers in Manston 

Logistics UK have asked lorry drivers stuck in Manston to send them photos of the situation inside the park. The want to present evidence to the government to ensure that conditions improve on the site.

22.12.2020 16:10

UK Health secretary says another, „more transmissible” new coronavirus variant found in UK

Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, has said another new variant of COVID-19 has been detected in the UK. Two cases of it have been found so far.

The cases have been detected in patients who travelled from South Africa over the last few weeks.

The development is „highly concerning” says Hancock, as it is even more transmissible and has seemingly mutated further.

22.12.2020 15:56

Freight bound for Dover directed to junction 8 of the M20

In case you were wondering where to go now that Manston is full, drivers are being directed to junction 8 of the M20

22.12.2020 15:44

BBC: first trucks now leaving Manston lorry park

The BBC are reporting that the first trucks have started leaving Manston.

22.12.2020 15:35

RHA: those wishing to leave UK should not do so via the Dover Straits

The RHA has advised anyone looking to enter France by ferry not to go to ports in Kent.

22.12.2020 15:23

Manston at capacity, lorries told join Operation Brock queue

22.12.2020 15:19

Guardian footage shows earlier scuffles with police

More footage has emerged of the scuffles that occured between police and lorry drivers at the port of dover this morning.

The video also shows drivers frustrated with France’s actions as well as the lack of facilities in Kent.

22.12.2020 15:02

BBC: police have blocked the entrance to the Port of Dover

Amanda Akass, who is currently in Dover reporting for the BBC, says the entrance to the Port of Dover has been shut off by a line of police officers.

She says that the police will not start allowing vehicles through until “protesters” move from the roundabout at the entrance. However, Amanda says the protesters themselves told her they won’t move as they do not want to go to the back of the queue, and cannot anyway as the road is blocked in both directions.

However, minutes later Sky News reported that some lorries had been allowed into the port, so perhaps the situation has calmed down somewhat.

22.12.2020 15:02

Drivers turn on RHA and ask why they don’t offer more support

As tension among lorry drivers stuck in Dover and Manston increases due to the delay in rolling out testing, the Road Haulage Association has come under fire from the followers of its own Facebook page.

You can find more on this story on our website here.

22.12.2020 14:22

Kent Police confirm one arrest has been made in connection with disturbances in Manston and Dover

Kent Police say they have arrested one individual in connection with the scuffles reported at Manston and Dover earlier today.

Of course, there are several thousand drivers on site, so the solitary arrest shows that the overwhelming majority of truckers in Kent are not involved in any illegal activity whatsoever.

22.12.2020 14:07

Testing begins at Dover Port

Coronavirus testing for drivers stuck in Dover has started on site at the Port of Dover, say Sky News.

The announcement reportedly sparked more unrest, with one man lying in front of a lorry.

22.12.2020 13:40

Where can drivers go for a test?

The Port of Dover have attempted to provide some clarity on where drivers can be tested. However, the lack of punctuation in their tweet complicates matters slightly.

In short, it seems that if you are on the M2O, wait there and you will be tested. If not, you’ll have to go the Manston lorry park.

To muddy the waters further, there have been reports of another testing point being set up in front of Dover Port.

22.12.2020 13:40

Newhaven sailings fully booked

Logistics UK have stressed that hauliers should not travel to Newhaven unless they already have a booking.

22.12.2020 13:40

„They told us nothing” 

A video uploaded to YouTube within the last hour shows a lorry driver confirming that testing has started.

However, he also explains about the problems regarding toilets at Manston, where 7,000 truckers are currently parked. He then goes on to say he has no idea what he’ll do if he tests positive as the authorities have told him nothing.

22.12.2020 13:36

Poland want testing done more quickly

The Polish Embassy have said it is „absolutely crucial to have the drivers tested as quickly and as broadly as possible” so that they can enter France. The Embassy add that they are in constant contact with the British authorities to speed up the process as soon as possible.

22.12.2020 13:29

Fake news debunked

Local radio station KMFM are also reporting that a coronavirus testing point will be set up by the entrance to the Port of Dover.

Meanwhile, social media reports that lorry drivers trashed a McDonalds in Kent have been debunked. The manager of the McDonalds branch mentioned in the social media posts says there has been no trouble at all.

22.12.2020 13:18

Ministry of Defence confirm they will assist the coronavirus testing of lorry drivers in Kent

170 members of the military have been deployed to help with the coronavirus testing programme, say the UK Ministry of Defence.

22.12.2020 13:13

Testing being set up at the Port of Dover

Sky News sources say that a mobile coronavirus testing point is being put together at the entrance to Dover ferry port as as to try and clear the blockade there.

22.12.2020 12:40

BBC: The Department of Transport have confirmed that testing has started

The BBC are reporting that the Department for Transport (DfT) have confirmed that the coronavirus testing of lorry drivers has started.

The DfT say that as of 09:30 GMT, more than 5,000 lorries are being held in three „traffic management operations” in Kent.

Moreover, hauliers are still being urged not to travel to Kent as there is a huge backlog of lorries to get through first.

22.12.2020 12:30

Anger as Manston Lorry Park bans drivers from cooking or taking photos

Drivers at Manston Lorry Park are not allowed to cook meals inside or outside their cabins, neither are they allowed to take photographs, says a flyer that’s allegedly been handed out on site.

You can find more on this story on our website here.

22.12.2020 11:50

Several-mile-long queues of trucks still stuck on the M20

Video posted to Twitter minutes ago shows that the situation on the M20 is still grim.

There are many lorries still stuck in long queues, and to make matters worse, the weather is miserable.

22.12.2020 11:50

The „greatest logistical genius in the world” would struggle to shift the 8-10,000 lorries in kent

Following his appearance on the BBC earlier this morning, Rod McKenzie of the RHA has told Sky News that even „greatest logistical genius in the world” would struggle to shift the 8-10,000 lorries that are currently stuck in Kent.

He also tweets that no tests appear to be happening.

22.12.2020 11:42

Manston airport runway now full of trucks

Video footage released within the last hour shows that the runway at Manston is now completely full of trucks. Logistics UK reported earlier today that the Brexit lorry park had been closed.

22.12.2020 11:35

Little movement on the M20

The AFP news agency have just published a recent video of the scene at the M20. As you can see, there is very little signs of any movement.

22.12.2020 11:30

Telegraph footage shows tensions between lorry drivers and police

A video published minutes ago by the Telegraph shows angry lorry drivers clashing with police at the port of dover.

As was reported earlier in this feed, some drivers have blocked the Port of Dover in protest to stop French goods coming into the UK.

However, as one driver explains in the video, this is actually blocking truckers who do have negative coronavirus tests from making the crossing across the channel.

22.12.2020 11:13

RHA: testing off to a slow start

The RHA’s Rod McKenzie appeared on BBC news at 09.11 GMT this morning, at which time he said coronavirus testing had not started. Testing had been expected to start at 6am.

McKenzie also criticised a lack of food provision and said that the delivery of information to drivers has been „extremely poor.”

22.12.2020 11:03

BBC: drivers in turmoil over lack of information

The BBC’s Simon Jones, who is on site at Dover, says that the frustration among drivers is mainly down to a lack of information:

„What we’ve heard from people above all is there is a lack of information – the waiting, the not knowing what’s going to happen. This morning a lot of people have been turning up on spec, people from Romania and Bulgaria who are in vans, hoping they might be able to get a test. I think they will be told they have to go and join the back of the queue on the M20 or potentially if they’re a lorry be allowed on to the site here at Manston Airport, which is being used as a holding facility.”

The department for transport announced its plans for testing late last night, but have not published any updates since. As a consequence, drivers do not know where to go to get tested.

As soon as we have any information, we shall of course bring it to you.

22.12.2020 10:45

Logistics UK: Manston is closed

Logistics UK have repeated calls for hauliers not to travel to Kent, and say that Manston Lorry Park is closed.

22.12.2020 10:39

Polish driver shares footage of the blockade


Już kierowcy wyszli na ulicę!

Posted by Raftrans Rafał Urbaś on Wednesday, 23 December 2020

22.12.2020 10:30

Kent Online: lorry drivers blockade the port at Dover

Drivers in the vicinity of the port are furious about the lack of facilities and their inability to get a coronavirus test on site. As a result, some have blockaded the port’s exit, meaning UK-bound freight will soon be stuck.

22.12.2020 10:15

Polish Embassy deliver supplies to drivers

The Polish Embassy also came to the aid of truckers at Manston yesterday, delivering water and food to drivers.

22.12.2020 09:35

Fury over regulations at Manston Lorry Park

Drivers have reacted with anger over regulations at Manston Lorry Park that forbid them from cooking meals in or out of the cabin, as well as taking photos. An image of the regulations in Polish has been shared widely on social media and can be seen below.

22.12.2020 09:35

Sky News: „scuffles” at the border

Drivers have amassed by the border in Dover and have been seen scuffling with police, say Sky News. The same channel report that horns have been sounding solidly for 20 minutes.

22.12.2020 09:30

More drivers arriving at Manston

The BBC’s Simon Jones tweets that more drivers are heading to Manston airfield so as to get the mandatory coronavirus test that could allow them into France.

22.12.2020 08:59

Waberer’s driver provides supplies for other truckers on site at Manston

A Hungarian driver has reportedly spent 500 pounds on food and water to help drivers running low on supplies. Yesterday, The Salvation Army and the Sikh community also supplied aid to the drivers stuck on site.

22.12.2020 08:55

Aerial photos show sheer number of trucks at Manston

Photos of the Brexit Lorry Park at Manston yesterday made the front pages of several UK newspapers, for obvious reasons. The number of lorries at the site is now thought to be well over 3,000.

22.12.2020 08:55

Eurotunnel publish details on travel requirements

For those intending to get to France via the tunnel, here is what’s required:

22.12.2020 08:46

Hauliers still advised to stay away from Kent

Last night the UK Government urged hauliers to stay away from Kent as it will be a long time before they are able to travel to France. Minutes ago, Highways England reiterated the advice.

22.12.2020 08:46

RHA: „It’s going to take time to clear backlog”

According to the RHA’s Duncan Buchanan, testing began at 6am this morning. However, it will naturally take a long time to clear the backlog.

22.12.2020 08:39

Welcome to our live coverage of the situation in Kent, where thousands of lorry drivers are set to be tested for coronavirus to allow them to enter France and return to their families.

An agreement to reopen the UK-France border and allow both accompanied freight services and some passenger services to resume has been reached by the UK and French Governments.

You can find more information on our website here.

Photo credit: Stephen Craven / Geograph UK (illustrative image)

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