Britain is sending 800 military personnel to its border with France as it tries to break the logjam of truck drivers stranded by COVID-19 restrictions
A firefighter dabs a truck driver to test for Covid-19 on December 24, 2020 in Dover, United Kingdom. Travel from the UK to France is gradually resuming after a hiatus due to concerns about a new strain of COVID-19.
Britain is sending 800 new military personnel to its border with France to test thousands of stranded truck drivers for coronavirus.
French President Emmanuel Macron closed the French border with Great Britain on Sunday when a new strain of coronavirus broke out in the UK.
The border reopened on Tuesday, but anyone crossing the border must have a negative coronavirus test.
With thousands of tests to be tested, the British Army, French firefighters and Polish soldiers are backing efforts to clear the jam.
Out of almost 2,400 tests for truck drivers, only three were positive, said British Transport Minister Grant Shapps on Christmas Eve.
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The UK is sending nearly 800 military personnel to its border with France to clean up a huge backlog of truck drivers trying to leave the country as the UK quickly breaks out a new variant of coronavirus.
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Thousands of trucks and their drivers have been stranded in Kent after French President Emmanuel Macron banned all British travelers - including freight forwarders who carry goods - from entering France on Sunday.
The ban effectively closed the English Channel to France, resulted in a rapid build-up of trucks in and around the port of Dover and resulted in long queues of trucks on the English M20 motorway. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also turned an airfield in Kent into temporary parking for thousands of trucks.
Following talks with Johnson, Macron eased the ban on Tuesday and opened the border to anyone who recently had a negative COVID-19 test. However, with thousands of drivers getting stuck and more arriving every day, testing them all out is a significant challenge.
As a result, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that around 800 UK Armed Forces workers will be deployed on Christmas Day to assist in testing efforts. According to the BBC, around 300 people were already on the job, meaning a total of 1,100 people have now been hired to help.
Thousands of trucks are stranded near the British border crossing with France. Gareth Fuller / PA Images via Getty Images
Secretary Shapps said he had "given the army special instructions to take control of testing and truck management operations," Sky News reports.
"Our goal is to get overseas freight forwarders home with their families as quickly as possible," he added, according to the BBC. "I know that many drivers have found it difficult to sit in their taxis at this precious time of year, but I assure them that we will do our best to get them home."
Members of the French fire service known as Sapeurs Pompiers are also helping with testing efforts, while the Polish Defense Minister said he was sending a team of Territorial Army soldiers to help. A large number of the drivers stranded in Kent come from Poland.
Shapps said Thursday that so far 2,367 truck drivers have been tested at the border and only three have tested positive for the virus.
There have been many scenes in the UK border area this week and a handful of truck drivers clashed with police on Wednesday. Volunteers from the Salvation Army, a charity that normally focuses on homelessness and disaster relief, have even been drafted to feed stranded drivers.
According to a 2018 report by EY, the canal crossing is the most important route for the UK and the EU's trade relations with a total trade volume of almost € 138 billion.
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