Drivers are now waiting for a Covid test so they can enter France (Picture: PA/ Reuters/ Getty Images)
Lorry drivers say they are still unlikely to make it home in time for Christmas as they remain stuck in Dover despite France opening its borders on Wednesday.
Drivers now have to undergo a Covid-19 test in the UK before they are allowed to cross the Channel to France, amid concern over a new, more contagious, variant of the virus. They must have a negative result from a test within the past 72 hours before they’re allowed into the country.
The process has now created a backlog of around 5,000 HGVs waiting to enter France. The Department for Transport (DfT) said 3,800 lorries were parked on a disused airfield site at Manston as of Wednesday morning.
Polish lorry driver Greg Baranski, 39, has been waiting on the airfield for the past two days. He said: ‘My situation is not nice. I’ve been waiting here for about two days, and we do not know what will happen next.
They must have a negative test result within the past 72 hours (Picture: Getty Images)
‘We are waiting for a test for coronavirus, after when we are negative we can go to Dover and pass the channel and go back home. But it is too late now, because of Christmas coming after tomorrow.
‘That means it doesn’t matter for us, 100% now we won’t make it home for Christmas. I’m not happy. My family are waiting for me but probably I will be home after Christmas.’
France closed its borders amid concern over a new Covid strain (Picture: Reuters)
There is now a backlog of around 5,000 HGVs waiting in Kent (Picture: AFP)
Mr Baranski claimed there were just two food trucks available on the airfield, and said drivers were having to wait around two hours in the rain for a meal. He went on: ‘People here are from Romania, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, and we are all really angry and hungry.’
Some lorry drivers at the entrance of the Port of Dover’s Eastern Docks have begun protesting over the ongoing situation. Van driver Emil Liveu, who is transporting parcels from the UK to Romania, has been stuck in the UK and sleeping in his cab since 10pm on Sunday night.
He said: ‘They told me I need to get a Covid test to cross the border. I found a private test, I paid for it, they give me the test, I come back here and they told me no.’
He added: ‘It’s hard to pay for a hotel when you have paid £130 for the test, money for diesel, paying for the motorway. We’re stuck here. No toilet, no food.’
Drivers have been sleeping in their cabs (Picture: EPA)
Freight Lorries and HGVs stacked at Manston Airport (Picture: AFP)
On making it back home to Romania for Christmas, he said: ‘If I leave now, maybe I’ll get back. But to be honest, I don’t think I have any chance.
‘I have a small baby at home, it would be first our Christmas together, but that’s it, I guess we’ll do it on Facebook. Everyone is hoping because there are a lot of people here with children.’
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