COVID: Personnel Deploy As More Testing Sites Open For France-Bound Hauliers

Military personnel will assist by using quick turnaround lateral flow devices to test drivers.

Personnel have been deployed to assist as more than 20 new coronavirus testing centres are being set up for hauliers crossing the Channel to France.

Ten opened on Saturday, and 10 more are opening on Sunday. More locations are set to open during the week, according to the Department for Transport.  

Military personnel have been deployed to assist at the new sites, using lateral flow devices to test drivers, which are able to produce quick results.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “The Armed Forces are once again demonstrating their flexibility, redeploying to new testing sites to ensure quicker access and minimal disruption on the approaches to Dover and the Eurotunnel.

“As we saw throughout the festive period the Armed Forces are dedicated to help keeping the country moving, healthy and secure in 2021.”

Staff at the sites can offer guidance on border processes following the EU transition and check whether drivers have necessary paperwork.

The Government is also offering to assist businesses to set up testing centres at their own premises to ensure lorries heading for France leave ‘COVID ready’.

Supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, free test kits will be provided.

A Royal Air Force Puma departs Manston Airfield with COVID19 Tests for the Folkestone area of Kent for British Soldiers to provide testing to awaiting European Lorry Drivers (Picture: MOD).

The Government says more than 25,500 lorries have crossed the English Channel since the French government imposed, then lefted, restrictions due to the new COVID-19 variant.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As a result of the heroic efforts of hundreds of military and civilian personnel who have worked hard over the past 10 days, we have made incredible progress in clearing the queues of drivers left stranded as a result of the French government’s actions.

“If we are to keep traffic flowing in Kent, it is essential drivers are tested before they travel down to the area and that they have a Kent Access Permit before heading to the border, and these new testing centres, both at service stations and inside businesses, will help reduce delays.”

Cover image: Library picture: MOD.