This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

covid shipping

The French border is open again for UK freight, but it could take a “few days” for the long queues of lorry drivers to go away, according to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Drivers need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before they can travel from Kent to France.

As France lifted its ban on freight arriving from the UK, Jenrick said it would take “a lot of work” to get trucks moving, the BBC reports.

Soldiers have joined Test and Trace staff in Kent to carry out rapid tests on thousands of stranded lorry drivers.

Travel ban 

The European Commission also published a statement yesterday advising member states to lift travel bans.

“Flight and train bans should be discontinued given the need to ensure essential travel and avoid supply chain disruptions,” the Commission said.

UK and EU travellers on their way home should be exempt from restrictions on the condition they take a test or quarantine, it added.

Those with an essential role, including medical staff, should be asked to get tested, but not to quarantine while on the job.

Reputational damage

In the long-term, the chaos of the last few days would weaken the impression that the UK is ready for new trade rules when the transition period finishes, food industry leaders told MPs.

Food and Drink Federation boss Ian Wright said UK exporters had been at pains of late to make sure overseas firms could rely on them after 1 January.

Giving evidence to an emergency hearing of the House of Commons business committee, he said the current crisis had harmed UK food exporters.

“We’ve just proved... that you can’t trust British products,” he said. “And that’s really unhelpful.”