Negative covid tests allow first 100 HGVs to leave Manston for the journey to France

Manston at capacity in December Photo Frank Leppard

Around 100 HGVs have now left the lorry holding facility at Manston airport tonight (December 23) to resume their journey to France.

The French border was initially closed to UK passengers and accompanied freight on Sunday night with the French government voicing concerns over the virulent new strain of covid spreading in parts of England.

An agreement to reopen the UK-French border to allow accompanied freight services and some passenger services to resume between the two countries was reached last night.

Photo Frank Leppard

Rail, air and sea services resumed this morning (December 23), with all people travelling from the UK into France required to show proof of a negative Coronavirus test taken within the previous 72 hours.

It means HGV drivers parked up at Manston airport and on routes to Dover can continue their journey if their test proves negative. Drivers with a positive test will have to isolate in hotel accommodation.

All lorry drivers, irrespective of nationality, require a lateral flow test. This can detect the new strain of COVID-19 and provide results in around 30-40 minutes, rather than the 24 hours required after a PCR test.

Photo Frank Leppard

A pop up lateral flow testing facility is in place at Manston. Those on the M20 will be tested in situ. Testing is being supported by the military.

There are currently around 3,700 vehicles parked at the Manston airport site. Many more vehicles are parked in laybys coming out of Sandwich and by some of the villages on the route to Dover. More are queued on the M20, which is fully closed between junctions 8 and 9 for Operation Stack this evening.

There are efforts ongoing to clear Jubilee Way to make sure HGVs can get to the port with police expected to achieve that clearance this evening.
Photo Frank Leppard
Unrest broke out among drivers parked at the site this morning with perimeter fencing brought down and angry truckers bringing A299 traffic to a standstill. There was also anger among arriving HGV drivers hoping to get a lateral flow test who were told to re-route to Operation Brock because Manston was at capacity.
Photo Carl Hudson
One Kent Police car was reported to have sustained damage during the disturbance. Police say no arrests have been made but enquires will take place to identify those responsible.
Photo Louis Mclaren
Around 200 toilets are now on-site at Manston and 12 food trucks after extra provision was brought in today. Last night community efforts to make sure drivers were fed included delivery of pizza from Ramsgate Football Club. Locals have also delivered food to hauliers currently stationed on roads and a lorry park by Sandwich.
Photo Louis Mclaren
Traffic is still heavily congested going into Dover and areas surrounding Manston. Hauliers are still being urged not to come to Kent.