The new coronavirus strain has led to France suspending freight transport from the UK.
The 48-hour ban began at midnight on Sunday and has caused confusion and chaos on the roads. However, Transport secretary Grant Shapps stated it wouldn’t be a “specific problem”, adding that the announcement came as a surprise.
“As soon as the French said, perhaps slightly surprisingly, that they would stop hauliers rather than just passengers, we were in touch with a group known as the Kent Resilience Forum,” said Shapps. “They are used to planning for exactly these kind of circumstances.”
To cope with some of the congestion, Manston Airport in Kent is being prepared to take in up to 4,000 trucks.
The French ban is part of a number of measures limiting movements of people and freight out of the country. Travels bans have also been imposed by other countries, with Germany, Italy, Canada and many others suspending UK flights.
For hauliers, the advice from all sides was to stay at home and not attempt to travel.
”It’s going to be a pretty frustrating, miserable existence for the next 48 hours,” admitted the RHA’s Richard Burnett to Radio 5 Live. “We want to try to contain the spread, but I think we’ve done that in a very practical way as a logistics industry, across Europe, throughout this year.
“We’ve had to manage different strains and different issues,” added Burnett. “We’ve worked very hard over the last nine months to ensure that the borders have been kept open, to keep that flow of products going.”
For its part, France said it was working with the EU on resumption of movement of UK haulage. “In the next few hours, at European level, we’re going to establish a solid health protocol to ensure that movement from the UK can resume,” Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said Monday morning.
Trucking will bring you more information as and when the situation changes.