A group of men, believed to be lorry drivers irate at sudden border closures due to the outbreak of the new, more virulent strain of Covid-19, clashed with police in Dover on Wednesday morning as tensions flared.
The reported “standoff” was the result of a delay in reopening the border after a deal between French and British authorities was struck overnight. It would allow the thousands of stranded lorry drivers to leave the UK, providing they have a negative Covid-19 test from the last 72 hours.
Violence reportedly broke out just after 8am as a small group of purported lorry drivers attempted to breach police lines.
BREAKING: Confrontations between drivers and police officers in Dover after delays in reopening the Channel crossing.Get live #coronavirus updates: https://t.co/DphRZzuRMNpic.twitter.com/vhcQY0Xge3
In footage from the scene shared by news agencies, HGV drivers were seen pushing, jeering and booing police at the Calais/Dover crossing which was shutdown on Sunday evening amid a surge in cases believed to be linked to a highly-infectious new strain of Covid-19.
Lorry drivers understandably very frustrated stranded here in the IK, no food water or info. Johnson & Macron said all day they were moments away from a deal. Where is it? Thousands of lorries stacked up in #Dover and all police say is “get back in your vehicle” #LorryDriverspic.twitter.com/mf6ESY6H0m
Thousands of drivers from across Europe have been stuck for days at the southern UK border and may miss Christmas with their families due to the border closures.
“I don’t know what to do. I want to go back to my family for Christmas, they are waiting for me. Every family is waiting for their man,” one German driver told reporters.
Rapid testing being carried out by the British Army and the NHS at Manston airfield, using lateral flow tests which can return a result within roughly 30 minutes.
However, concerns have been raised that these rapid tests used may actually miss many positive cases of coronavirus infection. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said it will “take a few days” to clear the backlog.
As of roughly 7pm UK time, there were an estimated 3,000 trucks parked at Manston Airport with an additional 700-800 in waiting elsewhere to undergo testing, many lined up along a nearby motorway. Drivers could be seen (and heard) venting their frustrations overnight.
Sound on! Hundreds of drivers stuck in giant lorry park that was once Manston Airport hoot their horns in frustration #LorryDrivers#COVID19pic.twitter.com/46ZHP6Y62L
Meanwhile, rail, air and sea routes to France will reopen for certain travellers on Wednesday who can show proof of a negative coronavirus test in the past 72 hours, and only those travelling for urgent reasons will be allowed pass, including hauliers, French citizens, and British citizens with French residency.
In somewhat heartwarming scenes, almost 1,000 meals were distributed by various charities and Sikh groups to the stranded drivers overnight.
Gravesend’s Sikh community gathered at the Guru Nanak Darbar temple to produce the piping hot meals which they handed out to the beleaguered hauliers under police escort.
We are working with the Kent Sikh community & @kent_police to provide 800 hot meals for the truck drivers who are stranded due to Borders being closed ! #OperationStack#BordersClosed@ashishskynews@Port_of_Doverpic.twitter.com/WlgeOGwdgh
Our teams are out there in the rain with the @kent_police , coastguard and highways agency distributing hot meals to truck drivers caught up in #OperationStack on M20 ! #BordersClosed@BorisJohnsonpic.twitter.com/HwH0zs9s8d
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