While many stay home during the pandemic, the trucking world rolls on. On Sunday night, France announced the closure of its borders with Britain to prevent the spread of a more contagious strain of COVID-19. Thousands of truckers became stranded at the U.K. English Channel port of Dover. Now as the travel ban has been lifted, the massive queue of trucks can begin to start shrinking.
The BBC reports some 2,850 trucks have been stranded since the border closure. The Dover port handles around 10,000 trucks daily or about 20 per cent of the UK’s trade. Trucks were redirected to nearby Manston Airport during the border shutdown. The airport was prepared to hold 4,000 trucks and the views of waiting trucks are absolutely staggering. From the AIRLIVE net Youtube channel:
For comparison, the famous Iowa 80 Truckstop — dubbed the World’s Largest Truck Stop — only holds a mere 900 trucks.
Under an agreement between the UK and France, the borders reopened for people travelling to France for urgent reasons. However, as part of the agreement, travellers need to have received a negative COVID-19 test less than 72 hours before crossing. Drivers are receiving rapid lateral flow tests — which can detect the new strain — to get a result in a quick 30 minutes. The new strain is reported to be more contagious, but not more deadly. It appears experts feel the vaccine being rolled out will be effective against this new strain.
The congestion at the ports isn’t expected to clear up anytime soon and some truckers are expecting to miss Christmas because of it. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned truckers not to drive to Kent until further notice, via the BBC:
I am pleased that we have made this important progress with our French counterparts this evening. This protocol will see the French border reopen to those travelling for urgent reasons, provided they have a certified negative Covid test.
We continue to urge hauliers not to travel to Kent until further notice as we work to alleviate congestion at ports.
Meanwhile, the truckers are helping each other get through their nights sleeping in their cabs by sending each other food and water. Services at the airport truck stop appear to be slim with restroom facilities even being closed.
I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor, but it could be worse. China’s had traffic jams that lasted nearly two weeks!
Hopefully, they can get back on the road and maybe home to enjoy the holidays, safe, sound and without spreading the virus.