Monday, March 29, 2021

UK to Test All Haulage Drivers Staying in Britain for Over 48 Hours After Arriving from EU

Supply Chain to be Maintained but More Vigilance Now in Situ
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whilst during the early days of the pandemic truck drivers were seen as one of the key groups linking the supply chain to ensure supplies of food and other essentials reached everybody who needed them no matter what, the picture now has changed somewhat.

With the evolution of different strains of the virus those same drivers are inevitably considered as a weak spot with regard to transmission between countries, and now the government has taken the first steps to try and eradicate the dangers with the announcement of Covid testing for all commercial vehicle drivers entering the UK from continental EU (not Ireland) if they stay in Britain for more than 48 hours.

Hardly waterproof then, but still welcomed by those associations charged with speaking on behalf of the sector. The tests are free, and the penalties for non-compliance likely to be severe. In addition to the rules on testing, commercial vehicle drivers entering the UK will have to follow Government rules on social distancing and all will be required to correctly complete passenger locator forms to facilitate contact while in the UK.

We await full confirmation of the details but it seems likely that no test will be needed for drivers staying less than 48 hours while any staying beyond 48 hours will need a test within 48 hours of their arrival. If still in Britain, a second test within 5 days of arrival is required, if remaining beyond day 5 a third test within 8 days of arrival is required. The maximum time between tests 1 & 2 and tests 2 & 3 is 72 hours.

It should be emphasised that these regulations apply to UK and non-UK nationals and regardless of who employing them. Additionally all will need to follow locally applicable Covid restrictions and advice, particularly drivers arriving from the EU making deliveries should only leave the cab for essential purposes, this can include eating and using washing facilities.

Drivers must also will need to wear face coverings indoors, unless exempt, and use hand sanitiser each time they enter or exit the cab. Full details of the test sites and their hours of operation are viewable HERE. Safer practice guidelines for international drivers is HERE. Commenting, Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett said:

“The UK vaccination scheme is most definitely working but we cannot let our safety regimes and procedures slip. This latest legislation will apply to ALL commercial drivers, whether they are returning from, or originating from the EU.

”It’s a completely fair system and will keep the GB and the EU member states protected as we all embark upon the road to recovery. We have an extremely good working relationship with Mr Shapps and his team and we are always available to quickly provide the industry knowledge and expertise needed to restore the supply chain to its former glory.”

Logistics UK responded to the news that all logistics drivers, air crews and rail workers are to be tested for Covid19 on their arrival to the UK incorporating a slightly cautious note, with Sarah Laouadi, European Policy Manager observing:

“It is vitally important to protect the UK and its highly interconnected supply chain, and the nation as a whole, from the threat of new Covid19 variants. Rapid testing of drivers on arrival in the UK will provide additional confidence that businesses can be supplied safely. However, it is worth remembering that drivers are, by the nature of their jobs and thanks to contactless delivery procedures, a very low risk category, as has been borne out by the testing carried out on drivers since the start of the pandemic where only 0.1% of them have tested positive for Covid-19.

”Any testing regime must be proportionate and not discriminate against those who are tasked with keeping British businesses and consumers stocked with the goods and services they need. We would urge the government to maintain a watching brief on the testing regime to ensure it remains appropriate and reacts to the situation on the ground.”