Scuffles have broken out at Dover as lorry drivers stranded at the Kent port clashed with police.

Several thousand lorries have been stuck after France stopped them crossing the Channel due to the new variant of coronavirus in the UK.

They have been lined up on the M20 motorway and at Manston airfield after the French government took action on Sunday night.

A group of drivers began booing and whistling police just after 8am, before a small number started pushing officers in an apparent attempt to break through their lines.

UK and French governments have now reached a deal to reopen the border from today – but lorry drivers must test negative for COVID before they can travel.

The military and NHS teams are to use quick turnaround tests on the hauliers, who come from all around Europe and are desperate to get home.

The time it will take to clear the large backlog is unclear, but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said it will “take two or three days”.

Government ministers have put the number of delayed lorries at just under 3,000, but the Road Haulage Association estimates between 8,000 and 10,000 are now waiting in Kent and surrounding areas.

Rail, air and sea services to France will resume today after the deal was agreed on Tuesday evening following earlier talks between Boris Johnson and President Macron.

Anyone travelling must show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the previous 72 hours.

Entry will only be granted to those travelling for urgent reasons, including lorry drivers, French citizens, and British citizens with French residency.

Mr Shapps said the French government had agreed to accept lateral flow tests, which can return results in around 30 minutes, in order to get traffic moving again.

He said enough tests had been sent to Kent for the number of drivers currently waiting there.

Anyone who tests positive will then be given a PCR test – which has a higher degree of accuracy – to confirm the result.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News that those returning a second positive test would be offered “COVID-secure” hotel accommodation.

He said he hoped to see the first hauliers crossing the Channel again on Wednesday morning.

The deal with France will be reviewed on 31 December, but could run until 6 January.

France had denied the lorry drivers entry over concerns the variant identified in the UK could spread to the country.

The new variant spreads more easily and is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible.

Dozens of countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from the UK since Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last weekend that it had taken a foothold in southeast England.

© 2020 Sky UK


News – Lorry drivers scuffle with police as tension mounts over Dover backlog