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Trucker arrested after clash with police as tempers flare in Dover

French travel ban eased as testing begins but lorry logjam at port will go on for days


Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick

A man was arrested after lorry drivers stranded by the French travel ban clashed with police in Kent.

More than 5,000 HGVs are being held in the county, with drivers being tested for Covid-19 before they are allowed into France.

Kent Council leader Roger Gough said the first 20 trucks had now entered the Eurotunnel to make the crossing.

Earlier yesterday there were reports of disturbances at Dover and the lorry holding facility in Manston involving those waiting to cross the Channel.

Footage showed a handful of officers attempting to push back a crowd of protesting drivers in Dover.

One man was arrested for obstructing a highway in Dover and remains in custody, Kent Police said.

A police car was also damaged during a disturbance at Manston.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said it may take a "few days" to clear the backlog of lorries despite the travel restrictions being eased.

Mr Gough said tensions between police and drivers had calmed down but added the situation remained "quite fragile".

He said 100 lorries had left the Manston site for Dover but had been unable to get to the port as it was being blocked by other vehicles.

"On the M20 side of things, the first 20 HGVs have gone into Eurotunnel," Mr Gough told Sky News, adding that the number should begin to "pick up" rapidly.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there continued to be "severe delays" despite testing taking place.

He tweeted: "Testing has begun as we look to get traffic moving again between the UK and France.

"However, French border police only acting on agreement from this morning and severe delays continue. Please AVOID Kent while the backlog is cleared."

France eased the travel ban yesterday, but said those seeking entry from the UK must have a negative coronavirus result.

All truck drivers, regardless of nationality, will be required to take a lateral flow test, which can detect the new strain of Covid-19 and return results in about 30 minutes, the Road Haulage Association said.

France imposed the travel ban in response to fears about the more infectious coronavirus strain, which is spreading in the UK.

Hauliers must be able to show proof of a negative test result carried out within the past 72 hours in order to be able to cross into France.

Those who return a positive result will be offered a PCR test for a more "refined" result.

Drivers will then be moved into Covid-secure hotel accommodation to self-isolate for 10 days if it is positive.

The disused airfield site at Manston has become the main testing centre for hauliers, with drivers required to self-administer the tests under supervision.

There were 3,800 vehicles at the Manston site as of 9.30am yesterday, along with 632 HGVs on the M20 as part of Operation Stack and 610 in Operation Brock, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

"As remaining capacity at Manston is being reserved for testing facilities, any new lorries that are arriving are being directed to Operation Brock," DfT added.

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