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OPERATION STACK: Lorries parked up on the M20 as French shut the ports

Monday 21st December 2020

OPERATION Stack is in place on the M20 this morning after the French closed its borders amid concerns about soaring COVID-19 infection rates.
The traffic control measures were implemented following the news that all traffic has been banned from entering France.
Due to last for an initial 48 hours, the ban is due to lifted shortly but lorries are backed up as far as junction 8 on the motorway.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio that use of Operation Stack, the knock-on effects of which can bring misery to the county town, was usual when the French strike or in the case of bad weather.
Rob Bird, cross-Channel transport spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "For the past s months Kent’s Liberal Democrats have been calling for Covid tests for all drivers arriving in Kent from Europe, or better still, before they depart.  Our calls were dismissed. 
"Ironically, there is now a strong likelihood that the French and Belgian authorities will insist on drivers being tested for Covid before they travel to Europe. The Government is under acute pressure to set up rapid testing units for drivers heading to Dover and the Channel Tunnel. All within the next 24 hours. 
"None of this is straightforward.  Operating procedures take more than a few hours to establish. The local Public Health teams will need to agree protocols with their Belgian and French counterparts for the interpretation of test results. And arrangements will need to be put in place to provide secure accommodation for any driver testing positive."
Graham Pask, for the Road Haulage Association, disputed Mr Shapps assertion that the vast majority of movements cross-Channel are unaccompanied (that is, without a driver) and that other ports continue to operate normally.