Kent residents and motorists were thanked for their patience as Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) partners worked around the clock with the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel over the pre-Christmas weekend to help thousands passengers to get to their destination safely.
Already a traditionally busy period for freight, as carriers bustle about delivering goods and stocking supermarket shelves from Friday to Saturday, a large number of people have also sought to reach France before entry into the country. its ban on non-essential travel.
In response to concerns about the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, starting Friday, December 17 at 11 p.m., the French government is demanding that everyone have a compelling reason to travel to France. Arrivals must also show proof of a negative COVID test taken within the past 24 hours. The new travel rules in France are detailed on the French Embassy website.
As operators worked hard to keep their customers up to date and manage traffic at their terminals, the national highways, Kent County Council highways and Kent Police were on the road to keep traffic flowing too. fluid as possible.
TAP20 – the traffic management system used to control the flow of freight from the A20 to the Port of Dover – has been implemented on a daily basis to help reduce the impact of disruption on the City of Dover. Diversions have also been put in place to help steer local traffic away from congestion towards the English Channel, the A20 eastbound carriageway between the M20 J13 (Folkestone) and the A260 (Hawkinge), closed several times for avoid the queues in the Roundhill tunnel. .
Heavy lifting gear was placed at the side of the road to be ready to quickly deal with broken down vehicles and, working with other agencies, Kent Police officers were deployed to key routes to help to manage traffic and quickly eliminate breakdowns.
Border Force also worked closely with PAF, its French counterpart, to ensure that customs posts were well staffed to assist with the processing of passengers until check-in.
Simon Jones, Director of Strategic Planning at KRF, Managing Director of Growth, Environment and Transportation at Kent County Council, said: “As a preferred crossing point for carriers and passenger traffic traveling to and from the UK to Europe, more than 6,300 freight vehicles alone use Kent’s roads daily to access the gateways. from the port of Dover and Eurotunnel.
“As expected, the last weekend before the Christmas holidays saw a high volume of trucks, with the situation further complicated by a large number of passengers wanting to reach France before its new restrictions take effect.
“As always, KRF’s partners have responded, working closely with the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, to help keep Kent moving as smoothly as possible, allowing our residents to go about their daily business as uninterrupted as possible, and making sure everyone travels safely. to their destination.
“On behalf of the Kent Resilience Forum, I would like to thank our local communities and our drivers for their patience as we work together to manage another challenge on our vital cross-Channel routes.
“Collectively, we are on the front line in responding to delays and disruption caused by the evolving COVID travel restrictions.
“Kent is a nationally significant economic gateway to Europe, and the Strait is a vital and strategic trade corridor which currently accounts for 59% of UK business with the EU, worth ‘around £ 250 billion a year.
“Any disruption has a serious and unsustainable impact on our communities and businesses, especially in the neediest areas of the eastern county. We have advocated and will continue to advocate with government for future-proof, future-proof smart borders in Kent. “