Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Published on December 24, 2020
1. COVID-19 – New strain of COVID-19: new health control methods for lorry drivers coming from the United Kingdom – Communiqué issued by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition (Paris – December 22, 2020)
Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, welcomes the specific methods for crossing the border from the United Kingdom decided on for lorry drivers, with the essential support of the British authorities. They limit the risks of the COVID-19 variant spreading, while taking into account the distinctive characteristics of lorry drivers’ activity.
At midnight on Sunday, December 20, in view of the very rapid development in the United Kingdom of the VUI-2020-12-01 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the French authorities decided to totally suspend the movement of people between the UK and France. This measure also related to lorry drivers.
Following discussions with the European Commission and the other Member States, as well as very positive talks with the British authorities, the Government decided to partially restore movement, stipulating a requirement to present a PCR test taken under 72 hours earlier or, alternatively, an antigen test from the list of tests validated by the French Health Ministry on the basis of their sensitivity to the VUI-2020-12-01 variant of the virus.
For lorry drivers, be they French or foreign, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, agreed that antigen tests can be carried out at dedicated sites set up by the British authorities.
In this way, drivers will be able to obtain the result quickly and embark for France, provided the test is negative. For any drivers confirmed as positive, PCR tests can be taken to confirm or negate the result. If it is confirmed that the driver is infected with coronavirus, he/she will have to self-isolate for 10 days on British soil from the date of the first test result. In this case, the British authorities will organize accommodation during this period, after which the driver will be able to return to France.
The next few hours will be devoted to setting up the various test sites to ensure movement is restored, so that as many drivers as possible can return to spend the Christmas holidays with their families. The French and British authorities are fully mobilized to achieve this.
In the meantime, the French Government asks lorry drivers currently in the UK not to go to Kent.
Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said: ʺI welcome the methods we’ve been able to agree with the British authorities in record time, and I thank the British Government and in particular my counterpart, Grant Shapps, for their pragmatism in resolving the difficulties encountered. The special nature of lorry drivers’ jobs was taken into account, to optimize working conditions and the free flow of trade while respecting the health priorities. As I say again, tribute must be paid to this professionʺ.