The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has caused havoc for businesses around the world, with the huge impact on the global economy making it increasingly difficult for many companies to stay afloat. The haulage industry has been particularly affected by the pandemic, with a number of factors (restrictions on non-essential travel, closure of many industries that rely on haulage, lack of drivers) combining to create an extremely difficult situation.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) have been proactive in asking for clarity from the government on the path out of the crisis, however advice has been limited – here’s what we know so far.
One thing we do know via the RHA is that the government are pushing all commercial vehicle drivers travelling to the EU via Kent to be ‘border ready’. Drivers must be able to prove that they have taken a COVID-19 test and returned a negative result. The test must have been obtained from an authorised, independent source and must have been taken no more than 72 hours prior to crossing the border.
Similar restrictions apply at a number of other European countries:
– Drivers crossing into France must provide proof of a negative later flow or PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.
– The same applies if you are travelling into Germany, although you must also meet the criteria to be considered to have an urgent need to travel.
– Denmark makes a specific exception for freight hauliers travelling into the country, although you must provide proof of a negative test within the previous 24 hours.
– Drivers travelling into the Netherlands from the UK must provide proof of a negative test. The information is not specific but implies that the test must be taken at the ferry terminal – stating that the test must be ‘directly before departure’.
Following an extremely difficult year, it does seem as if things are beginning to improve, with the rollout of vaccines across the UK picking up speed on a daily basis.
Phase 1 of the rollout pertaining to the haulage and logistics sector provides vaccines for commercial vehicle drivers and other haulage workers aged 50 and older, as well as anyone in the industry with underlying health conditions. It should be remembered, however, that there are sub-categories within phase 1 – starting with care home residents and workers, and ending with people aged 50-54 – so being in phase 1 doesn’t necessarily mean you will receive your vaccination in the immediate future.
The government have not yet provided much detail regarding their plans for phase 2 of the rollout, causing great frustration and worry for workers in the sector. The RHA has again been proactive in pushing for more concrete information given that long-distance drivers travelling to different countries have a greater chance of catching the virus and bringing it back to the UK – but thus far, the government has been unable to confirm their strategy.
While a return to normality still seems a long way off, it’s now clear that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and with new vaccines being authorised it is reasonable to think that the rollout will pick up pace in the coming months. The COVID-19 situation is a fluid one, with the government providing new information all the time – we will of course keep you updated on the details.
In the meantime, we at Transmode want to emphasise that, while we continue to provide efficient and timely transport solutions, our priority is the health and welfare of our drivers and we take great care to ensure they are not put at risk while working.
We are also aware of the impact the virus has had on job security around the country. If you’re a subcontractor looking for work, Transmode is always on the look-out for motivated new recruits – so make sure to get in touch!