Huge queues of lorries build up at Dover after port bosses begged for lateral flow tests to keep traffic moving and predicted 20-mile motorway queues unless Covid checks are lifted by Easter holidays
Long queues have built up at Dover with the Operation TAP temporary traffic system implemented to help ease the huge lines of lorries at the border.
Vehicles stood stationary awaiting border checks, just a day after the Port of Dover boss begged the government for lateral flow tests to ease the pressure on the workers.
The Dover TAP, a temporary traffic system to prevent a build up in lorry traffic, was brought in amid tailbacks on the motorways.
Long queues have built up at Dover with the Operation TAP temporary traffic system implemented to help ease the huge lines of lorries at the border (pictured this evening)
Vehicles stood stationary awaiting border checks, just a day after the Port of Dover boss begged the government for lateral flow tests
A long queue of lorries wait on the A20 at Capel-le-Ferne for the Port of Dover in Kent today
The TAP sees a 40mph speed restriction for all vehicles approaching the port brought in.
Port-bound lorries are required to queue on the nearside to prevent congestion and traffic lights hold back lorries until there is space at the Port of Dover.
The port’s chief executive Doug Bannister said staff ‘still don’t have full access’ to daily tests despite being key workers.
上个星期, Boris Johnson had promised 100,000 key workers would receive the lateral flows each day.
The port has applied to be included in the scheme but is yet to receive the supply, leading to potential shortages and causing delays,.
The Dover TAP, a temporary traffic system to prevent a build up in lorry traffic, was brought in amid tailbacks on the motorways
The TAP sees a 40mph speed restriction for all vehicles approaching the port brought in
Bannister told the 英国广播公司: ‘The government has made lateral flow capacity available to some key areas. They haven’t stepped as deeply into our operations as we’d like them to.’
He said port workers had ‘maintained the operations and the critical flow of goods into the nation’ over the past two years and the port needs to be ‘better prepared’.
He added daily tests would ensure there is the ‘right complements of the people on the ground to facilitate travel’.
Exports across the channel between Great Britain and the EU became subject to full customs controls on January 1, adding to the delays.
Lorries queue at the entrance to the Port of Dover in Kent as the boss begged for more lateral flow tests
The port’s chief executive Doug Bannister said staff ‘still don’t have full access’ to daily tests despite being key workers
It comes after a ferry boss predicted 20-mile motorway queues if Covid border checks are not lifted by Easter as UK holidaymakers are likely to ditch long-haul trips for holidays closer to home in Europe.
Consumer confidence in travel is currently low as a consequence of the rapid spread of the 奥米克戎 变体, which caused a number of new travel restrictions and testing requirements to be introduced over the festive period.
There are hopes, 虽然, 那 2022 will see a resurgence in travel demand amid hopes some restrictions will soon be lifted with Britain moving towards a situation where it can ‘live with’ 病毒.
Chris Parker, director of capacity and passenger performance for ferry operator DFDS, has warned that an increase in Brits heading to Europe for an Easter holiday could lead to 20-mile queues at Dover if Covid border checks are not eased.
He said checks on passenger locator forms and vaccination passports mean it takes longer for travellers at the border, which could continue to be an issue.
Mr Parker added: ‘Any sort of significant return in terms of passenger numbers, that’s going to escalate the problem.
‘It’s really, really important that we don’t find ourselves around Easter, 例如, doing these sort of checks because it simply won’t work.
‘The impact would be queues back on to the motorways of Kent, stretching back 10, 20 英里 – there’s no question about that – and in fairly short order.’
Mr Parker added that little notice prior to the introduction of new restrictions had also led to ‘quite a lot of abuse’ for DFDS staff at the border.
Freight lorries, heading to Dover, queuing on the M20 motorway at the Channel Tunnel Terminal junction in Kent on December 18, 2021
DFDS ferries Dover Seaways (最佳) and the Cote d’Opale pictured as they arrive at the Port of Dover in Kent
If demand for travel eventually returns to pre-pandemic levels, he also predicts there will be behavioural changes among holidaymakers.
Mr Parker said: ‘I do think that maybe there will be a shift a little bit away from long haul back towards more local holidaying, and I guess that also underlying there’s that element of sustainable travel, green travel.’
As well as the challenges presented by the pandemic, he said the travel industry is still getting to grips with Brexit and how to pursue a greener, more sustainable future.
Asked about restrictions on UK nationals visiting France introduced days before Christmas, Mr Parker hailed the ‘very good news’ last week that the UK Government had rolled back its main restrictions and said ‘we may hear something quite soon’ regarding the French Government following suit.