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Testing truck drivers in Kent for Covid-19 will have a huge impact on the supply chain and will be extremely expensive, according to the RHA.

It was responding to reports that the plan to reopen France’s border following fears that a new coronavirus variant could cross the Channel and enter mainland Europe would probably include testing for HGV drivers.

More than 1,500 lorries are currently trapped in Kent waiting to leave the UK as politicians figure out how to reopen France’s border to trade and travel.

Currently no lorries are leaving the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel to France, and Home Secretary Priti Patel said 650 lorries were stacked up on the M20, with a further 873 at a nearby lorry park.

The RHA said it accepted that the EU needed reassurance that UK was taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of the latest, more contagious strain of covid, but chief executive Richard Burnett added: “Hauliers have been working within the strict covid protocols since the end of March.

“There are many serious implications to this latest situation, even lateral flow Covid testing will have a massive impact on the supply chain.”

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Burnett said HGV drivers took their responsibilities seriously and rest breaks were spent in cabs with social distancing rules maintained when they left them for comfort breaks.

Burnett said: “Right now, HGV drivers caught up in this mess have limited access to toilet and washing facilities - the majority have none.

“Denying them even the most basic facilities is not only putting their health at risk, it’s exacerbating the very situation that it was supposed to prevent.

“For example, what will happen to those drivers who test positive?

“They will be unfit to drive but where will they go? They will be unable to quarantine with their families in Europe and what will happen to their vehicles? Who will be responsible for the deep cleaning of their cabs? And for those carrying return loads, what will happen to their cargo?

“This is going to be an extremely expensive exercise.”