British army helps clear backlog of virus-stranded drivers

LONDON (AP) — Around 1,000 British soldiers spent December 25 trying to clear a huge backlog of truck drivers stuck in southeast England after France briefly closed its border to the United Kingdom (UK), then demanded coronavirus tests from all amid fears of a new and apparently more contagious virus variant.

Even though an estimated 4,000 or so international truck drivers are spending yet another day cooped up in their cabs, some progress was evident on Friday, with traffic around the English Channel port of Dover moving in an orderly fashion towards the extra ferries that were put on to make the short crossing across to Calais in northern France. Rail operator Eurotunnel was also back in action, offering a way back into France.

The military personnel were directing traffic and helping a mass testing programme for the drivers, who must test negative to enter France.

French firefighters have also been drafted to help the military test drivers for coronavirus.

Poland’s Territorial Defense Force also sent reinforcements to help with testing and food distribution.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he had instructed the army to take control of testing as part of efforts to get “foreign hauliers home with their families as quickly as we can.”

A huge backlog of truck drivers are stuck in southeast England. PHOTO: AP