French firefighters delivered 10,000 Covid tests to Dover to help stranded lorry drivers

Thursday, 24th December 2020, 2:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th December 2020, 2:04 pm

French firefighters have helped out the lorry drivers currently stranded in Dover, delivering 10,000 coronavirus tests in a bid to let the trucks cross the Channel by Christmas Day.

France has asked that drivers produce a negative Covid test before crossing into the continent, but the British authorities have struggled to deliver tests to the 6,000 hauliers who have remained stuck across sites in Kent.

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‘Neighbours, partners, allies and (yes) friends’

The French ambassador to the UK, Catherine Colonna, said that 26 firefighters had brought 10,000 of rapid turnaround tests to the port today, Christmas Eve.

The ambassador added that the UK and France were “neighbours, partners, allies and (yes) friends” despite criticism over French president Emmanual Macron’s decision to close the border earlier in the week.

Macron implemented a blockade in response to an apparently more infectious strain of the coronavirus. The blockade stopped trade across the Channel, leaving thousands of lorry haulers stranded in Kent, and concerns around the UK about the supply of fresh food.

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has called for “patience” from thousands of lorry drivers now stranded outside the Port of Dover following the French travel ban, saying the disruption would take “a matter of days” to resolve.

A tweet from Catherine Colonna showed the French Firefighters delivering Covid-19 tests to the truck drivers before dawn on Christmas Eve.

Rising tensions at Dover

The delivery of the tests comes a day after tensions rose at the port of Dover, when lorry drivers clashed with UK police, after being stranded for more than 48 hours.

Up to 10,000 lorries have been estimated to have been stranded around the ports on England's south coast.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned there may be shortages of some fresh goods until the backlog of lorries is cleared.