Scuffles broke out between truckers and police near the UK’s port of Dover on Wednesday (December 23) amid anger over a partial blockade on cross-channel travel, which has left thousands stranded.
One trucker was seen laying under his vehicle in protest, before police dragged him to the side of the road.
Groups of drivers confronted police, who shouted at them to get back.
France imposed the 48-hour ban on Sunday (December 20) following the discovery of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 that has become widespread in London and the southeast of England.
Police said there had been disturbances in Dover and Manston “involving individuals hoping to cross the Channel” and one arrest had been made, as tempers continue to rise.
Paris and London agreed late on Tuesday (December 22) that drivers carrying a negative test result could board ferries for Calais from Wednesday after much of the world shut its borders to Britain to contain the new mutated variant.
A British minister said the military would start testing drivers but he warned that it would take time to clear the backlog, hammering Britain’s most important trade route for food just days before it leaves the European Union’s orbit.
However, on the ground at the port of Dover – for centuries one of the main arteries for trade with the rest of Europe – there was little sign of tests being conducted.
The Road Haulage Association, which estimated there were up to 10,000 trucks being held up in Kent, said the situation was chaotic as the testing system was not yet ready.