Foreign Truck Drivers are to Be Tested for Covid-19 on Arrival in the UK
Added: 13 April 2021
At the end of March, the Government announced that logistics drivers, air crews and rail workers are to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival to the UK.
The new coronavirus rule which applies to hauliers from outside the UK and Ireland came into force on 6 April.
All foreign lorry drivers arriving in England for more than two days will need to take COVID-19 tests according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. They will need to take the test within 48 hours of arrival and one every 72 hours thereafter. Mr Shapps said the decision has been taken “to ensure we keep track of any future coronavirus variants of concern."
The free tests will be available at more than 40 government haulier advice sites, which have been testing drivers leaving the UK since December. Fines of £2,000 could be imposed for those failing to comply.
All hauliers arriving in England from continental Europe will also be required to complete passenger locator forms to facilitate contact while in the UK.
Business organisation Logistics UK has asked the Government to keep their response proportional to the risk, and to consider the low number of drivers who have tested positive since the start of the crisis, and the isolated nature of the work.
A spokesperson at Logistics UK said: “It is vitally important to protect the UK and it’s highly interconnected supply chain from the threat of new COVID-19 variants, and the nation as a whole. Rapid testing of drivers on arrival in the UK will provide additional confidence that businesses can be supplied safely.
“However, it is worth remembering that drivers are, by the nature of their jobs and thanks to contactless delivery procedures, a very low risk category – as has been borne out by the testing carried out on drivers since the start of the pandemic where only 0.1% of them have tested positive for COVID-19. Any testing regime must be proportionate and not discriminate against those who are tasked with keeping British businesses and consumers stocked with the goods and services they need. We would urge the government to maintain a watching brief on the testing regime to ensure it remains appropriate and reacts to the situation on the ground.”
A similar move by France in December caused chaos in Kent when it was introduced at short notice, but the industry believes there is now enough rapid testing available to be able to cope and not cause problems.
Many parts of Europe, including France, are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, prompting fears of another wave in the UK.
The move attracted criticism from Labour's Yvette Cooper, who said the government had not acted fast enough.
At an MPs' hearing last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked why France had not already been added to the "red list" of countries, from which travel to the UK is banned.
Mr Johnson said a balance is needed between protecting public health and keeping trade flowing.