A stranded truck driver waiting to return to France following the country's UK travel ban said he had no idea if he could return to his family for Christmas.
The truck driver, one of the hundreds stuck in Dover after Emmanuel Macron closed the border on Sunday, said officials must now arrange a Covid testing program for European hauliers to come home on Christmas Eve.
Emergency calls are being held today to end the cross-channel travel ban. The French president is expected to announce plans to reopen the border today.
It is believed that up to 1,500 trucks will be waiting to cross the line when restrictions are lifted. France's 48-hour ban, which was put in place on Sunday after a new strain of Covid-19 was identified in the UK, ends at 11pm tonight.
With discussions today about a possible border testing program, some truckers fear missing out on the prospect of missing out on Christmas with their families.
President Macron has also been accused of abandoning foreign truckers for insisting on a slower PCR test – which can take up to three days for a result to be returned.
One told today's BBC Radio Four show: "I feel bad, really bad, terrible indeed.
Emergency calls are ongoing this morning to end the cross-channel blockade. The French president is expected to announce his plan to end the travel ban today. Pictured: truck driver Victor from Ukraine
It is believed that up to 1,500 trucks will be waiting to cross the border when the 48-hour restrictions are lifted. France's 48-hour ban, put in place after a new strain of Covid-19 was identified in the UK, ends at 11 p.m. tonight. In the picture: the Polish truck driver Marcin Pastok
With discussions today about a possible border testing program, some truckers fear missing out on the prospect of missing out on Christmas with their families
"We didn't know anything, we don't know if we could come home to see our families for Christmas."
Speaking of plans to test truck drivers before they return, he said, “It will be fine, but maybe there are 1,000 to 1,500 trucks in Dover.
"If they are doing tests here it might be a good idea, but they have to start now to get to Christmas Eve."
& # 39; There are no words to describe this. I came on Sunday and on Sunday they decided to close it. If I had known that the day before, I would never have come here. & # 39;
Truck driver Geoff Moxham could miss his first Christmas at home in 45 years after France closed its borders with Great Britain
Another in line was French apple farmer Marie Noelle (63), who was determined to return to Tours for her mother's funeral.
Paulette Poujet died Saturday at the age of 87 after an aggressive four month battle against severe Alzheimer's disease.
Mrs. Noelle called: “Macron, Merde! Let me come home, ”the port official said on the orders of the French President.
She said, “The funeral is on Wednesday at 2pm. I just have to be there.
“I want to go through first, but I know everyone wants the same thing.
“But we're a seven hour drive from Calais and it doesn't look like we're moving anytime soon. That makes me so sad. I can not stop crying.
“Look at this situation while all these people wait. It is not normal. I'm French but it's all our fault. & # 39;
In addition to European drivers, British hauliers are also facing problems due to the travel ban.
Truck driver Geoff Moxham could miss his first Christmas at home in 45 years after France closed its borders with Great Britain.
The Cheltenham grandfather didn't realize he was on the last ferry from Dover until he started speaking to a French agent who asked him how he was going to get home.
Instead of putting his feet up on Christmas Eve, the father of four is stuck on the side of the road with thousands of other drivers or drives home on the autobahn.
"I was 66 yesterday and spent my birthday on the road. I have no plans to do the same for Christmas," he said.
"I haven't missed a Christmas home in 45 years, so I'll be there even if I have to get a boat."
Dover was plunged into a second night of chaos yesterday, with up to 1,500 trucks filling the freeway, back streets and lay people in the city of Kent following the travel ban
In Dover, trucks are parked in the streets while the port in Kent remains closed
Truck driver Frank could have officially retired on Sunday on his 66th birthday. Instead, he delivered heavy machinery to Charles Russell Transport in Deerhurst, Germany, and drove to the Calais ferry at around 6pm on Sunday.
“I was on the last ferry to leave the UK, but I didn't know until one of the French crew members I know wished me luck to get home
PCR vs Lateral Flow: More chaos as the UK and France argue over the nature of tests for truckers
The French government is demanding that UK travelers, including truckers, conduct PCR testing before arriving in the country. Returning a result can take up to three days.
A PCR test can cost up to £ 180 per person with the swab being processed in a laboratory.
The UK, on the other hand, prefers faster tests that are not done in the laboratory and give a result within 15 minutes.
These rapid coronavirus tests, so-called lateral flow tests, can be carried out on site using portable devices.
They are faster and cheaper than the laboratory-based PCR tests that the government uses to diagnose people, but are less accurate.
A lateral flow test uses a swab to take a sample from the person's nose or throat and then process it in a small machine that tries to detect the coronavirus by mixing the sample with something that the virus has would react.
If there is a reaction in the mixture, it suggests that the person is carrying coronavirus. If not, you will get a negative result. This process can be completed in just 15 minutes.
These lateral flow tests are different from the gold standard PCR test, scientifically known as the polymerase chain reaction test.
A swab is also used in PCR testing, but it is processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyze the genetic sequence of the sample and determine if any of them match the genes of the coronavirus.
This is a much longer and more expensive process that involves multiple types of trained personnel. The analysis process can take hours, with the entire process from swab to receiving the result taking days.
However, it is much more accurate. Under ideal conditions, the tests detect the virus with almost 100 percent accuracy, although this is closer to 70 percent in the real world.
This is comparable to a much lower sensitivity in lateral flow tests. One type of study used in Liverpool suggests that around 50 percent of people who would test positive with PCR would go missing.
Extreme accuracy can be a disadvantage for PCR because so many people have been infected. However, the tests can detect bits of virus in people who recovered weeks ago and are no longer infectious, which can result in them needing to isolate themselves unnecessarily.
Side flow tests are more likely to miss people carrying the virus, but experts say they have value in weeding out people carrying large amounts of the virus and therefore most likely to spread the disease.
When I asked what he meant he said they were all going to quit their jobs and there would be no more transport to the UK. I was completely surprised.
& # 39; I couldn't believe it. There were no announcements and no one had said anything until then. & # 39;
However, he remains determined to make it home for Christmas.
He said, "I've been married for 44 years and have four daughters and 12 grandchildren, so we usually have big family Christmases," he said.
"I don't know what's going to happen this year, but my wife just called and asked if I can pick up fresh vegetables on the way back."
Dover was plunged into a second night of chaos yesterday, with up to 1,500 trucks filling the freeway, back streets and lay people in the city of Kent following the travel ban.
Emergency calls are ongoing this morning to end the cross-channel blockade. Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce his plan to end the travel ban today.
It comes after Boris Johnson made a personal appeal to the French President last night to lift the shutters on the continent.
They were slammed by France on Sunday evening after a new strain of Covid-19 was identified in the UK.
The UK and France are discussing ways to control the spread of the virus today, with border testing being seen as a central point in the discussion.
However, a series emerges about how and where to test drivers who want to cross the canal.
France prefers the slower PCR tests, which can take up to three days to return and which can cost over £ 180.
Paris also wants the tests to be done before a person arrives on French soil.
This would add to the cost of the program in the UK and, with the inherent delay associated with PCR testing, would mean delays at the border could continue beyond Christmas and confine drivers to their trucks during the holiday season.
France would also require arrivals to have a certificate showing the negative test result.
The UK, on the other hand, wants to use a rapid cross-flow test that can give a positive or negative result within 15 minutes.
Vanessa Ibarlucea of the French National Federation of Road Transport commented on Macron's preference for a PCR test.
She said, “It takes 48 hours to get an appointment and another 48 hours to get the results of a PCR test.
"Our drivers will not be at home with their families in time for December 24th. Our drivers have been abandoned in a foreign country."
Even when this faster method is used, the testing program can create logistical chaos as it may require 6,000 drivers to be checked per day.
Around two thirds of these drivers use the port of Dover and one third use the Eurotunnel.
Today Highways warned England that the chaos around the port of Kent could last for days. There are currently hundreds of trucks waiting to cross the English Channel when it reopens.
The motorway authorities have asked the freight forwarders not to drive to the border. Traffic measures Operation Stack and Operation Brock were activated to calm the travel chaos.
Interior Minister Priti Patel said today the government was "working on a solution" while talks with France continued to reopen all trade and transport across the canal.
She told Sky News: “We are working on a solution. I think this is really important to put this into context.
It is believed that up to 1,500 trucks will be waiting to cross the border when the 48-hour restrictions are lifted. France's 48-hour ban, put in place after a new strain of Covid-19 was identified in the UK, ends at 11 p.m. tonight
Today Highways warned England that the chaos around the port of Kent could last for days. There are currently hundreds of trucks waiting to cross the English Channel when it reopens
“It is in our interest to keep our flow in both countries and of course there are currently European hauliers wanting home and frankly it is in our interest to continue these discussions and negotiations, and we will see what materializes today. & # 39;
Regarding the test farce, she said: “The discussion about the type of tests will be between the transport secretaries here and in Paris, so I cannot speculate about the type of tests that will be used.
Which countries have banned flights from the UK?
France imposed an entry ban from 11 p.m. yesterday evening
Spain Prohibits all entries from the UK from tomorrow with the exception of Spanish nationals and residents
Germany, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Romania, Malta, Croatia, all suspended flights from the UK
Italy blocked all flights from the UK until January 6th
Bulgaria Flights from the UK are suspended until January 31st
Netherlands banned all passenger flights from the UK until January 1st
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia prohibited flights from the UK until January 31st
Denmark As of this morning, all flights from the UK have been suspended for 48 hours
Norway stopped planes from the UK for two days
Belgium Flights and trains from the UK were stopped for at least 24 hours from midnight
Greece extended the quarantine period for travelers from Great Britain from three to seven days
Portugal says only Portuguese and UK residents can travel there
By doing Irish RepublicFlights from the UK are banned for at least 48 hours from midnight on Sunday and people have been asked not to travel to Ireland by air or sea.
Turkey has temporarily banned all flights from the UK
Canada All UK flights are suspended for 72 hours
Russia suspends flights from the UK for a week
India suspends flights from the UK from midnight on Tuesday through December 31st
Hong Kong, Israel, Iran, Croatia, Morocco and Kuwait Restrictions introduced for travel to the UK
in the Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru All prohibited flights from the UK
Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights for a week Jordan Flights from the UK suspended for two weeks.
Oman yesterday announced the closure of its land, sea and air borders for seven days from December 22nd. It is not possible to enter or leave Oman during this time.
Pakistan suspended entry for inbound travelers from the UK or those who have been in the UK in the past 10 days. The ban applies for a period of seven days from December 23rd to 29th.
Czech Republic Arrivals that have been in the UK for at least 24 hours must be isolated
The island of Mauritius banned travel for anyone who has been in the UK in the past 15 days. This decision will be reviewed on December 31st. Sudan also has a travel ban in place.
Government of Grenada ceased all air traffic between Great Britain and Grenada on December 20th and did not allow anyone with a British travel history of the last 14 days to enter.
“But it's pretty clear I mean we ask passengers to take tests before they get on planes. It's pretty clear now that mass testing and testing is the way forward so we need to find proactive and productive ways how we need to put testing in place to make sure this happens and I think this is all around security and protection . & # 39;
Ms. Patel initially refused to be informed about the number of trucks currently waiting at the border. She later told BBC Radio 4 that there were 650 trucks on the M20 and 873 at nearby Manston Airport.
The total could go up to 1,500 trucks, some say, with trucks now parked along the coast in Dover.
Highways England yesterday estimated the total number of trucks on the M20 alone at nearly 1,000.
While the hybridization crisis continued, UK food experts urged shoppers not to panic before Christmas, saying there would be "plenty of food".
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability for the British Retail Consortium, told BBC Radio 4's Today program: “To be very clear, there is certainly no problem for Christmas.
"Right now there is plenty of groceries in the supply chain and in stores so no one has to worry about groceries for Christmas dinner. There is enough groceries for everyone and we can all shop normally."
But he warned there might be problems after Christmas, saying, “There might be a problem right after Christmas, and that's really in fresh produce, so we're talking about things like lettuce, vegetables, fresh fruit, those of those the vast majority come from Europe at this time.
& # 39; Our view is, as long as it can be clarified today, there will be minimal impact on consumers.
"Keep in mind that shops are closed on Christmas Day which takes a day of purchase out of the equation, but the trucks stuck in Kent have to return within the next day."
Meanwhile, one of France's leading transport unions has raised fears of a drivers strike, with an official warning that no trucker wants to deliver to the UK because of the new strain of coronavirus.
Jean Marc Puissesseau, President of the Port of Calais, supported plans for testing across the canal today.
He told BBC Radio 4, “I think something should happen to this test that should be put into effect as soon as possible so that they can return. But in Calais it is very quiet. & # 39;
France announced yesterday that it will reopen to trucks from the UK, but asked drivers to register a negative test.
Mr Macron confirmed that the authorities could require that PCR tests be shown negative on arrival in (French) territory.
It may take two to three days for a PCR test to come back, suggesting drivers need to be tested in the UK before leaving for France.
It would also mean that people trying to get into France from the UK would need to provide a certificate to get into the country. It's unclear what will happen if someone arrives at the border without evidence of a negative test.
The French government has promised to resume the movement as soon as possible. The port of Dover said incoming trucks are now coming to the UK.
The Road Haulage Association said it was "everyone's guess" how to introduce a testing program at the border.
Paul Mummery, spokesman for the RHA, told MailOnline, “Until we understand what this process looks like, it is difficult to assess whether the cargo can be brought back into service.
"This is something they want to do very, very quickly, but what that looks like is everyone's guess."
Adrian Jones, Unite's National Road Traffic Officer, said, “Drivers are having a nightmare before Christmas because they are bogged down across channels.
& # 39; Unite has grave concerns that many of those stuck in immediate delays lack access to proper toilets, washing facilities, decent groceries, or places to rest outside of their taxis.
“It's not just affecting their physical needs, either. The hours of waiting without knowing how long the delays will last is a major stress factor for the drivers. Many fear that they will not get home in time for Christmas. & # 39;
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Emmanuel Macron (t) Christmas (t) Coronavirus (t) France