Chaotic scenes were reported in the town of Dover as gridlocked drivers in vans, lorries and private cars refused to move away from the port for fear of losing their place in the queue.
UK and French authorities agreed that freight and passengers could move if they tested negative for Covid-19 within the past 72 hours. Testing staff from the UK’s National Health Service and the Army have been on site at Manston airport since this morning. But the Road Haulage Association said that up to around 1pm (UK time) few tests, if any, had been completed.
Residents reported children urinating out of car windows and litter, including bottles of urine, lining the streets, with up to 3,800 trucks now parked at Manston Airport and a further 1,200 lorries in Dover or the surrounding area.
Reports from the BBC suggest that lorry drivers are reluctant to drive the 26 miles to Manston Airport from Dover Port because they believed that they would not be able to get back into the town.
Further, unconfirmed reports suggested that tests and testing staff were unable to get into Dover to break the gridlock. One resident said he had been unable to move his car for more than 50 hours due to the chaotic scenes on the street.
Ferry and Eurotunnel services should be operational, but with few tests taking place the expectation is that the chaos will last through Christmas and that some perishable cargoes will be lost.
UK transport minister Grant Shapps was warning drivers to stay away from the port until such a time as the movement of freight has been restored.