GENEVA

The world’s road transport organization IRU Monday called on the French, UK, and other governments to keep borders open for goods transport, urging clarity on new COVID-19 measures.

“Completely closing borders to truck movements anywhere in Europe is unprecedented in the current pandemic,” said IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto.

“Trucks have been moving across Europe throughout the entire pandemic. The EU Green Lanes initiative, supported by all EU members, including France, made clear that continuity of logistics chains is crucial and must be protected.”

De Pretto said that the current French action makes no sense “and will only make things worse” in an already uncertain period “due to the looming Brexit transition.”

Suspension of all traffic by France for 48 hours has caused significant disruption of freight traffic, threatening to affect fresh food supplies to the UK during Christmas festivities.

The Geneva-based IRU said France banned all trucks and drivers entering from the UK, initially for 48 hours.

“This puts up to 85% of all UK imports from the EU at risk, and literally cuts off the supply chain from the EU to Ireland,” said the IRU.

To avoid further confusion and disruption in goods transport across Europe, the French government must immediately exempt trucks, truck drivers, and their loads from border crossing restrictions.

The truckers group said essential goods transport, especially for food and medicine, is at risk on both sides of the English Channel.

The EU drivers and haulage firms are uncertain about taking loads into the UK for fear of being unable to return, said the IRU.

“This is exacerbated by UK-bound trucks already having to wait for up to 24 hours on the French side of the border in recent days.”

The transport umbrella said that blocked trucks and closed borders will quickly snowball beyond the UK and France to affect other supply chains across Europe.

“The new COVID-19 strain is serious and must be monitored,” said the IRU.

“As in the early stages of the pandemic, clear and proportionate measures must be taken that target the virus, rather than drivers and trucks. Mandatory exclusions or quarantine periods for drivers do not effectively do this.”

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