Chaos at Dover as people rush to reach France ahead of travel deadline
Complaints of three hour waits, slow processing and queue-jumping flooded Twitter last night, after thousands of people waited through the night at the Port of Dover to reach France ahead of looming new travel restrictions.
UK holiday-goers brought forward Christmas plans to visit the country after France announced a ban on non-essential travel into the country from December 18, with a backlog of tourists arriving at the port on Friday night to get on a ferry before the deadline.
DFDS Ferry Travel directly apologised on Twitter to hundreds of customers about the slow processing of vehicles and long waits – with people claiming it was taking 20 minutes per vehicle and between two and five hours to be placed on a ferry on Friday night in the run up to the midnight travel ban.
One passenger reported queue-jumping was taking place, while other passengers expressed concern that delays on the ferries would cause them to become caught up in the new regulations.
The company warned customers to allow two hours to complete the check-in process and border controls due to increased checks and large numbers of passengers.
A Port of Dover spokesperson told KentOnline: “Due to the existing barrier of Covid-19, tourism volumes through this gateway are already significantly reduced and these recent changes are another dampener on the pre-Christmas getaway. We urge customers to contact their chosen ferry operator for the latest information and to follow government travel advice.”
This followed disruption reported earlier on Friday for Eurostar services and ferries.
France is now only accepting French nationals and residents into the country, following a surge in Covid-19 cases across the continent and the spread of the Omicron variant.
Only people attending a funeral of a close relative, travelling for medical reasons, or arriving for essential work are now permitted entry.
Hauliers are also exempt from the new restrictions.
The UK recorded a further 93,045 Covid-19 cases on Friday – the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
Infection rates are also on the rise in France, with the country registering 240 confirmed cases of the omicron variant on Thursday – with the total number of omicron infections in likely to be much higher than official figures suggest, as the UK is known to sequence more positive test samples.
The travel ban also follows growing political acrimony between both countries in the past year.
The countries have been engaged in protracted disputes over the Astra Zeneca vaccine, the Northern Ireland Protocol, refugees and migrants crossing the Channel, the Aukus defence deal and fishing rights in the past year alone.