Rabu, 23 Desember 2020

Truck drivers in UK resume travel to France after tense two-day coronavirus blockade - ABC News

Truck drivers with a negative coronavirus test have begun arriving on French shores, after the nation relaxed a two-day blockade which stranded thousands of freight vehicles in the UK.

The blockade, imposed by France due to a new coronavirus strain being found in the UK, was relaxed after 48 hours of frenzied negotiations among French, British and European Union authorities.

French authorities came to an agreement delivery drivers could enter by ferry or tunnel provided they showed proof of a negative test taken less than 72 hours before their journey.

The company that runs the Eurotunnel said truck drivers lined up along the highway leading to Dover were being tested for the virus, but it might take a couple of days for traffic to return to normal after the massive backup.

Thousands of drivers, many from across Europe, have been stuck for days in southern England.

Many are set to miss Christmas with their families.

With anger boiling over, some have scuffled with police.

A wide view of a main road with tracks queueing along the entire length
France argued that the blockade was necessary to protect European citizens.(AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Blockade comes amid looming Brexit deadline

European nations began shutting their borders to Britain on Sunday local time, one day after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed new lockdown restrictions due to the surge of new infections related to the new COVID-19 strain in London and southern England.

France argued the blockade was necessary while figuring out safety measures to protect European citizens.

On the English side of the Channel, soldiers were being deployed for the mass-testing program to ease the backlog of trucks.

The French travel restrictions had worried many as the UK relies heavily on its cross-channel links to Europe for food, especially for fruit and fresh produce.

Eurostar passenger train traffic was also resuming from Britain to Europe, but only for citizens of Europe's border-free zone, British citizens with EU residency and those with a special reason to come to the continent temporarily, such as truckers.

The blockade came amid tense talks between Britain and the EU on a post-Brexit trade deal.

The pile-up of trucks in Britain served as a glimpse of what the border could look like if no deal was struck by the December 31 deadline.

France's Europe minister noted that it comes to trade, "the British side has much more dependence on Europe than the reverse."

A board showing the French speed limits is set on the Eurotunnel site, meters before the tunnel linking France to Britain.
Delivery drivers coming from the UK can now enter France by ferry or tunnel.(AP: Michel Spingler)


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2020-12-23 12:16:00Z

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