London, Dec 24 (efe-epa).- Thousands of European truck drivers were still waiting near Dover on Thursday to cross the English Channel after the French government ordered the border to be closed for two days over fears of a new variant of the coronavirus.
The British army and French firefighters have been enlisted to administer thousands of tests to ease the backlog of trucks, after an agreement was struck on Wednesday to reopen the borders to drivers provided they present a negative coronavirus test.
Trucker Mariano Buitrago, a native of Murcia and carrying a load of dog food to Spain, told Efe that the line of trucks on the motorway to Dover is already more than 30 kilometers long.
It is estimated that at this time of year about 10,000 trucks cross every day between Dover and Calais, in France, to transport fresh food and other goods for the Christmas holidays.
FRENCH FIREMEN HELP WITH THE TESTS
A team of 26 French firefighters has arrived in Dover with 10,000 coronavirus tests for the transporters, announced the French ambassador to the United Kingdom, Catherine Colonna.
“Neighbors, partners, allies and (yes) friends!” 26 firefighters have been working alongside the teams in Dover since this morning. They have brought 10,000 Covid-19 tests,” the ambassador wrote on Twitter.
The British Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, wrote on Twitter: “as well as ensuring ferries will now sail on Christmas and Boxing Day, we’ve also got great cooperation by French firemen working with NHS Test & Trace and our brilliant military in a big effort to clear the backlog created by the French border closure”.
TRUCKERS TO SPEND CHRISTMAS STRANDED
Many truck drivers — having spent over three days waiting near Dover — are now resigned to spending Christmas in the United Kingdom.