Lorry drivers entering the UK previously did not require testing for COVID-19. Other professional hauliers were also exempt from the international lockdown measures around arrivals to the UK.
However, Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, recently announced on Twitter that all lorry drivers arriving in the UK from abroad must undergo standard COVID-19 testing if they intend to stay more than two days.
The Department for Transport reports that the new regulations are mandatory due to the gradual increase in COVID-19 cases throughout Europe. The Prime Minister also expressed his concerns about a third wave of COVID-19 in Europe that may soon reach the UK.
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has stated that the government is acting too late and that delaying protective measures has only risked more lives.
Cooper also disapproves of the fact that lorry drivers spending less than two days in the UK are exempt from testing. She believes that the government should be more vigilant as the emergence of novel variants like the Brazilian and South African variants can jeopardize vaccine rollout plans.
According to one estimate, over 20,000 people travel from France to the UK every week and, under the current foreign health measures, two-thirds of them are not legally required to test negative for COVID-19.
The new regulations will be put in force from April 6, which is almost three months after testing was made mandatory for lorry drivers exiting the UK.
Also, three months ago, traces of the South African COVID-19 variant had been detected in France, and despite recommendations from health officials, the government delayed implementing lockdown measures.
In retrospect, the government now plans to carefully monitor and put stronger restrictions on French arrivals. International travel for citizens is also primarily prohibited until at least May 17.
Hauliers arriving in the UK from abroad must also take a COVID-19 test every three days if they stay for more than two days. The regulations apply to drivers of vans, HGVs, and LGVs.
The tests are free of cost, and failure to undergo testing without acceptable cause can result in a fine of up to £2,000.
Testing facilities are available at regular haulier advice sites. If someone is tested positive, they are eligible for a PCR test for confirmation. If tested positive within the UK, citizens are required to self-isolate in their vehicles or apartments. They aren’t allowed to access public areas except for specified reasons or when the self-isolation period has ended.