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The RHA has welcomed the smooth flow of traffic at Channel ports, following the UK’s exit from the EU on 1 January, but warned that the real test will come later this week as freight volumes return to normal, complicated by the need for truck drivers crossing into France to have tested negative for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours previously.

Speaking to, Rod McKenzie, RHA MD of public policy, said: “Whilst there have been no serious delays the picture is more complicated than it appears.

“Volumes at the ports since 1 January have been very low, at around 500 a day, of which a percentage have been turned back because of paperwork problems or because the drivers have not had Covid-19 tests.

“Whilst that accounts for under a dozen trucks delayed, if you scale that up when there are 10,000 trucks a day you very rapidly get hundreds of trucks facing delays.

“So this week will be a key test of the new border system and the onerous red tape it involves, complicated by the need for drivers to be tested for Covid-19 before they are allowed to cross, so they are facing two levels of bureaucracy.

He added: “Right now we cannot tell if there will be delays at the border or that those delays will take place invisibly at depots around the country as trucks are held back because the right paperwork is not in place or the driver’s Covid-19 test results have not arrived.

“The situation will become clearer later this week and this will be a real test of the system and of how well prepared operators are. It is a bumpy road ahead, but how large those bumps are and how long they last is not clear at present – so it is a real nail biter right now.”

The percentage of trucks arriving without the correct documentation at Holyhead this week are reported as higher than at the Channel ports.

Stena Line confirmed that one in five trucks arriving at Holyhead to make the crossing to Ireland had been turned back because of incorrect paperwork.