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Government Warns of Chaos Clogging British Ports

U.K.’s Cabinet Office warned of potential traffic jams and backups clogging British ports.

The government sounded the alarm Monday over potential chaos at British ports as traffic is on the upswing after a slowdown over the holidays. On top of that, ports are anticipated to see logjams as border control now requires more time to check for proper customs paperwork or reports documenting negative Covid-19 test results.

The U.K. formally exited the European Union a year ago, but trading regulations were left intact to allow for the two to negotiate a separation agreement connected to trade. A free-trade deal, meaning no tariffs and quotas, was finalized on Dec. 24, but has also imposed a learning curve around import-export requirements.

Many British firms had stockpiled goods ahead of the holidays in anticipation of lockdowns and the possibility of not having a post-Brexit trade deal in place. Those supplies have now dwindled, and traffic is picking up again, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday. Some of the traffic stems from a dearth of proper documentation, while other backups are because drivers lack the negative Covid test that France requires for entry.

The Road Haulage Association in the U.K. on Jan. 8 posted on its website an advisory for truckers crossing the border into France, noting that improper paperwork will send carriers to a separate on-site holding area pending further checks.

“We’ve been lucky so far. Traffic volumes through ports have been quite low. But the next couple of weeks are going to be the main test,” Stephen Bartlett, chairman of the Association of Freight Software Suppliers, told The Times.