Perishable goods ‘need priority’ as travel ban eases

French authorities announced journeys from the UK will be allowed to resume on December 23.

Perishable goods ‘need priority’ as travel ban eases Getty ImagesGetty Images

Calls have been made for perishable products – such as seafood – to be prioritised as lorry drivers start moving freight across the Channel again.

French authorities announced journeys from the UK will be allowed to resume on December 23, after lifting the travel ban imposed on Sunday in response to fears about the spread of a more infectious strain of coronavirus.

However, those seeking to travel must have a negative Covid test result.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, welcomed the news that the travel ban was being lifted as a “a first, positive step forward in 48 hours” but said priority must be given to perishable products.

His statement was echoed by Scotland’s transport secretary Michael Matheson, who said: “The UK Government has informed us that they have a plan to deploy lateral flow tests to drivers at locations in Kent where drivers are parked, and UK ministers must now urgently prioritise those drivers with perishable goods, such as Scottish seafood and salmon.

“What has always been of concern is the impact on exporters, not least of Scotland’s premier food produce rightly in demand in Europe.

“This is their most critical time of year and the dismay caused by the uncertainty and length of delay has been avoidable and regrettable.”

Matheson said he had spoken to UK transport secretary Grant Shapps and been told that the UK Government agreed that the move will permit drivers and other essential travellers to travel to France within 72 hours of a clear test.

More than 2800 HGVs were stuck in Kent on Tuesday as a result of the disruption caused by the travel ban.

Matheson added: “Now we have clarity on the type of test required, the Scottish Government will work with the haulage industry and the NHS to explore how we can support drivers to take those tests in Scotland in the future, before beginning their journey.

“To reiterate, Scotland is currently well stocked with food and medical supplies. We remain in close communication with the NHS and with food retailers and there is no issue that causes concern for the immediate few days ahead.”

He said arrangements will be in place until January 6, with a mutual review agreed for December 31.