France ‘won’t be added’ to UK’s ‘red list’ of countries subject to travel bans and quarantine hotel rules after lorry drivers were ordered to take compulsory Covid tests
- France is not expected to be added to the UK’s ‘red list’ of travel ban countries
- Lorry drivers coming to England must get tested for Covid-19 within 48 hours
- France has dropped requirement for lorry drivers arriving from UK to be tested
- Testing comes amid concerns over a third wave of Covid-19 cases across Europe
France is not expected to be added to the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries subject to a travel ban and hotel quarantine this week.
Government sources have played down speculation about the drastic move despite concerns about surging infections over the Channel and the threat of importing variants.
The powerful Covid O Cabinet sub-committee is due to meet tomorrow, but it is understood there is no prospect of imminent action.
Some 35 countries are currently on the list, including much of South America, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Foreign nationals are prohibited entry to the UK if they have been in any of the states over the previous 10 days, and British residents must complete 10 days of hotel quarantine. There are limited exemptions for essential workers.
Yesterday Grant Shapps announced that all lorry drivers entering England face compulsory Covid-19 tests to bolster protections.
The Transport Secretary confirmed the new regime for hauliers despite concerns it could cause disruption to key imports.
Those coming from outside the UK for more than two days are expected to take a test within 48 hours of arrival, and then every 72 hours after that.
France is not expected to be added to the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries subject to a travel ban and hotel quarantine this week
British residents returning from red list countries have to quarantine at hotels for 10 days
Government sources have played down speculation about the drastic move despite concerns about surging infections over the Channel and the threat of importing variants. This chart shows the seven day rolling average of new infections per million people
Grant Shapps confirmed the new regime for hauliers despite concerns it could cause disruption to key imports
Hauliers staying in England longer than two days will have to have a test within 48 hours of arriving and then every 72 hours. Pictured, Dover last week
‘This is to ensure we keep track of any future #Coronavirus Variants of Concern,’ Mr Shapps said on Twitter.
A similar move by France in December caused chaos at UK ports, but the industry believes there is now enough rapid testing available for the impact to be managed.
Although most foreign travel has been banned from Britain until at least May 17, essential workers such as truck drivers have been exempted as they transport crucial supplies. Instead they have been encouraged to take rapid flow tests.
Failure to abide by the new rules could lead to fines similar to the £2,000 penalties for travellers who fail to get screened during home quarantine.
Border Force staff engaged in cross Channel work and similar arrangements for those working on trains and ferries in the area will have to take three mandatory tests a week.
France has dropped its requirement for hauliers coming from the UK to be tested, which had been in place since December.
Lorry drivers heading from Britain to Denmark, Germany or the Netherlands still require a test.
Concerns have been growing about the spread of the South African and Brazilian variants of coronavirus on the continent.
Home Affairs committee chair Yvette Cooper grilled Boris Johnson about the situation on Wednesday, demanding to know why hauliers coming from France were not being tested.
In comments that were taken as a hint at the ‘red list’ being expanded, Mr Johnson responded that ‘we have to look at the situation at the Channel’ and ‘we can’t rule out tougher measures and we will put them in if necessary’.
He told MPs: ‘There is a balance to be struck, and what we don’t know is the exact state of the efficacy of the vaccines against the new variants.
‘We have to balance that against the very serious disruption that is entailed by curtailing cross-Channel trade.
‘We will take a decision – no matter how tough – to interrupt that trade and interrupt those flows if we think it’s necessary to protect public health and to stop new variants coming in.’
When France required the testing of hauliers crossing the Channel in December it led to thousands of lorries being stranded in Kent while the arrangements were put in place.
Three months on from the delays, France last week lifted its requirement for lorry drivers arriving from Britain to present a negative Covid test.
French officials started testing lorry drivers in Dover before they crossed the Channel in December last year (pictured). They dropped the scheme last week
There was huge disruption at Dover in December (pictured) when France imposed similar testing rules on hauliers
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