An agreement to reopen the UK-French border to allow accompanied freight services and some passenger services to resume between the two countries has been reached by the UK and French Governments.

However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has warned that there will continue to be major delays and disruption that will last for several days as it starts to put in place a mass testing programme for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers. It, therefore, urges hauliers not to travel through Kent until further notice.

Operation Stack remains in force along the M20 while lorry drivers in Kent are continuing to be directed to the Manston holding facility, where they have access to food and welfare facilities. Under the agreement, admittance into France will only be granted to those travelling for urgent reasons — including hauliers — French citizens, and British citizens with French residency.

Rail, air and sea services resumed on 23 December but with all people travelling from the UK into France required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the previous 72 hours. “The protocol agreed with the French Government will be reviewed on 31 December, but could run until 6 January,” the DfT said. “All lorry drivers, irrespective of nationality, will require a lateral flow test. This can detect the new strain of Covid-19 and provide results in around 30 minutes, rather than the 24 hours required after a PCR test.”

The French Government will also carry out sample testing on incoming freight to the UK.