Manston airport now empty of queued HGVs

Workers have dealt with the HGV backlog Photo Louis McLaren

The HGV queue at Manston airport is now cleared with hauliers told to no longer head for the site.

As of last night (December 25) 4,500 trucks had made the crossing to France.

Some 15,526 tests have been administered and of those 36 were positive. Those drivers are isolating at the Holiday Inn hotel in Rochester.

Photo Louis McLaren

The site, managed by the Department for Transport and former land owners Stone Hill Park, is cleared according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.


Emergency services, Army personnel, Coastguard, local authority staff, security, marshalling and other staff at Manston, NHS test teams, French firefighters and  Polish doctors, diagnosticians, nurses and paramedics were all drafted in to get the hauliers home following the closure and then reopening of the border with France.

A huge local effort also mobilised to make sure truckers at Manston, Dover and on the M20 had food, water and hygiene items, including deliveries from individuals, clubs and businesses and members of the Polish and Romanian communities in the UK.

So pleased most of the driver are making there way home today! We set them up with a nice buffet breakfast this morning…

Posted by Vic Bussey on Thursday, 24 December 2020

The Port of Dover, working with sister ports in France, ferry operators and both the French and UK border agencies mobilised to ensure the port has remained open throughout Christmas. It will not shut and will keep operating as staff continue the work to get everyone on their way home.


As of yesterday evening (December 24) there were 2,800 vehicles at the airport – down from the 3,800 capacity at the height of the backlog.

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.

Photo Louis McLaren

It reopened Wednesday and a huge effort has since taken place to get upwards of 8,000 stranded hauliers back on their journey home.


Queueing remains on the M20 with around 1,600 vehicles still waiting to cross but is being gradually cleared.


  1. 4500 at least tested and only 24 positive. That tells us that the truckers aren’t a covid problem.
    Well done to all at Manston especially working 24/7 to get the truckers home .

    • Precisely Dave, for those still being alarmed by publicised testing results (with all the many inherent flaws in both methods) that is a very low positive rate. That is good news and begs many interesting questions. Viruses are with us the whole time, and they mutate inevitably, and populations survive and healthy lorry drivers go home to their families. And well done to all who worked to to free the log jam and provided help, and to the reported good humour of the vast majority of the lorry drivers.

  2. Many thanks due to the testers who worked over Christmas, including the French firefighters and the Polish medics who arrived to help.
    The only flaw is that the “flow test” is not the most accurate.
    Sad for the ones who tested “positive” as they have probably got it. But an unknown number of other drivers tested “negative”, but will, in reality, have the virus all the same. And they will be cheerfully heading home waving their bit of paper to “prove” they are safe.
    Everybody knew this but all the testing is a face-saving exercise by all concerned. It was a way to clear the backlog. Over 50 countries banned arrivals from Britain but , due to the Kent/Dover bottleneck effect, this only had a real impact round here.
    So a “get out ” clause was invented to pretend that a solution was possible. And the French will be blamed for doing what 50 other countries did as well.
    The same thing that Britain is now doing to South Africa ie banning arrivals from that country to stop the spread of a new mutation of Covid.
    Once again, political expediency overcame the scientific reality.

    • The most negative product about Keefogs comments were the facts! None displayed or info to back fake news. How do you know an unknown number of drivers that tested negative have in actual fact got the virus? Everybody knew this……who are they then?
      Guess everybody knows you are a complete and utter ?

  3. A massive thanks to all the. Emergency services, Army personnel, Coastguard, local authority staff, security, marshalling and other staff at Manston, NHS test teams, French firefighters and Polish doctors, diagnosticians, nurses and paramedics (as quoted in the Isle of Thanet News) who gave up their christmas to help the stranded HGV drivers. Also to the people who supplied food,
    It was frustrating being so close but unable to help in any active way and it was good to hear that so few tested positive. I hope the French people appreciate the sacrifice so many people made in order to keep their country safe from the new strain of Covid 19.

    • Exactly Joan , great effort by all! No thanks to macron, the strain would have been on the continent already anyway, no reason to close french ports. But I’m sure the french stranded drivers will make their point at the next French election.well done all involved.

  4. Thanks also to all the ferry and port staff who gave up their own Christmas time to play their part in getting the cleared lorries across the Channel.

  5. We just got back at about midday from driving around Manston Airport. Lorries were still arriving from the Dover direction and going onto the airfield for testing.

      • I saw dozens of foreign trucks in a convoy all heading to Manston down the A299 this afternoon at the St Nicholas roundabout. The message hasn’t got through yet, or maybe they are going to get their tests done there.

  6. I would not be sending the toilets etc. away just yet. The French are only playing this week. Just wait till 1st of January, when the real queues will start.

  7. Manston is clearly ideal as a lorry park. Now that the application to turn it into an airport has been rejected its future need to be properly discussed. The aviation fanatics and their tame councillors decided that housing ought to be allocated to greenfield sites rather than Manston. They also rejected the use of the site for high tech manufacturing and a range of other commercial activities. It looks like lorry-park might be the only option.

  8. Well bloody done to absolutely everyone. Chuffed to see how the community responded in helping the hauliers, you’re all diamonds.

  9. Not an airport hasn’t been for years. It does make a good lorry park, so at last a productive use for that white elephant

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