Around 8,400 hot meals were given to stranded lorry drivers and more than 14,000 heavy goods vehicles were moved on during the week of disruption at the English Channel border, new figures show.
Local leaders have praised the “kindness and humanity” showed by charitable organisations and individuals to those separated from their families over the Christmas period.
The backlog of thousands of vehicles in Kent occurred following the sudden closure of both the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel on December 20 amid concerns over the new coronavirus variant.
Drivers wishing to enter France from Britain must now show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours.
25,000 coronavirus tests
The figures, released by the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF), show that over 25,000 coronavirus tests have now been administered by members of the armed forces since the requirement came into force.
The KRF, which is made up of partner agencies such as Kent County Council, Highways England, the Department of Transport (DfT) and Kent Police, activated a number of contingencies to cope with the disruptions.
Officers were drafted in to support operations from nearby police forces including Hampshire, Leicestershire and West Mercia, with many picking up extra shifts over the Christmas holidays.
Assistant chief constable Claire Nix, chair of the KRF’s planned response to potential disruption in the county, said: “Last week saw an unprecedented and unforeseeable level of disruption which affected not just Kent but most of the country.
“In Kent we felt the effects of the disruption more than most and behind our collective efforts to get the county moving again there are some statistics and facts that we wanted to share with everyone.”
Kindness and humanity
Kent County Council received many food donations by local charitable groups and local businesses which resulted in approximately 8,400 hot meals being provided to drivers in the run up to Christmas, the KRF said.
Over the course of the week a total of 14,659 HGVs were transported across the Channel.
Kent County Council leader Roger Gough said: “These statistics tell one half of the story and go some way to show the huge logistical challenges that arose during the crisis.
“As a group of partner agencies our number one goal was, and continues to be, to keep people safe and keep the county moving.
‘Of course, we’ve also been amazed and moved by the kindness and humanity shown by people who have rallied to help in whatever way they can.
“We recognise the pain for many drivers caught up in this and separated from their families at Christmas – yet the Christmas spirit was very much alive in Kent.”