Speculation is growing in the UK press regarding the introduction of mandatory covid tests for lorry drivers entering Britain from France.
The Independent says it understands that UK Government ministers could soon approve mandatory lateral flow tests for truckers entering Britain. An announcement could come as early as the end of this week – despite data showing 99.9% of lorry drivers recently tested in the UK did not have coronavirus. The Times have also reported similar.
It is said that Boris Johnson is coming under pressure from chief medical officer Chris Whitty to introduce stricter border controls to prevent new coronavirus strains arriving in the UK. Both Witty and his deputy Jonathan Van-Tam are reportedly concerned by the fact many people arriving in Britain from France are exempt from quarantine.
According to The Independent, the Road Haulage Association believes preparations for testing lorry drivers coming into the UK have been ongoing for “many weeks” and could be introduced without any disruption to the flow of goods. The RHA added that hauliers were “awaiting clarification” from the government.
During a committee hearing yesterday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked whether the tests would be introduced.
The Prime Minister said the efficacy of current vaccines on the variants of concern, as well as the delays testing could bring to goods imported to the UK, would be taken into account when making the decision.
Mr Johnson stressed that three-quarters of the UK’s medicines and half of its food is transported across the short straits route. The Prime Minister nonetheless added that the government would introduce testing for truckers if it was required to protect public health:
We will take a decision, no matter how tough, to interrupt those flows, if we think it is necessary to protect public health. It may be that we have to do that very soon.