UK port chaos: Truckers face roadside Christmas

Thousands of truck drivers remain stuck in southeastern England waiting to cross the English Channel to France. Although the border has been reopened, the backlog is expected to last several days. Thousands of truckers and travelers remained stranded on Friday after a days-long gridlock at the southern English port of Dover meant they got to celebrate Christmas on the roadside.

Cargo trucks have been trapped since Sunday after France closed borders with the UK in a bid to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant. As well as long queues forming on highways around the town of Dover, thousands of more lorries were diverted to a nearby airfield to wait for the backlog to clear. Light at the end of the tunnel was provided on Wednesday when France partially reopened its borders.

Drivers must provide a negative COVID-19 test result before entering France

But the process to enter France has been lengthened by stringent COVID-19 testing and hundreds of British troops have been in action to help clear the backlog. France and Poland have also sent teams to boost the testing effort. Many of the stranded drivers are from Eastern Europe.

Volunteers provide Christmas cheer

Volunteers have also been seen handing out food and other presents to keep the spirits high among the forlorn truckers, desperate to return home for the festive period.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government is doing its "utmost" to get the drivers home for Christmas and had sent "special instructions to the Army to take control of testing and HGV management operations," according to Sky News. However, for many, this has come too late, and a Christmas at the roadside became inevitable. Although the tremendous backlog of freight was rooted in fears over the coronavirus, some commentators had seen in the mammoth lines a portent of what might be lying ahead if Britain concluded its withdrawal from the European Union without a trade arrangement in place.

But those concerns were somewhat allayed on Thursday when London and Brussels announced they had come to an agreement on a post-Brexit trade deal.

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