Irish exports may be affected by the Government’s ‘slow reaction’ to new rules forcing truck drivers to produce a negative coronavirus test on arrival in France.
As of midnight last night, all hauliers arriving in France form Ireland must produce a negative antigen test.
Two dedicated antigen testing centres are opening today in response to the new rules – one at Dublin Airport and one on the M11 near Gorey.
However, the Irish Road Hauliers Association (IRHA) has warned that the Government’s failure to get them up and running in time has caused major disruption at Irish ports.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, IRHA Chief Executive Eugene Drennan said the centres should have been ready to go before the new rules were introduced.
“We are not happy with the reaction,” he said. “It was a slow reaction to an unfolding issue.”
He said it was “obvious” France was considering extra criteria in recent weeks – with other countries set to follow suit.
“We were promised three testing centres, they only got around to having two,” he said.
“We knew this for a number of weeks now and we should have had a better reaction because we are getting caught at a lot of points.
“Our imports, as you know, were badly affected by the advent of Brexit and all the new rules and regulation hauliers have to follow all over the place – we are bearing the brunt of it, there is a lot of expense to hauliers – and now there is a fear that our exports may be also affected.”
The antigen testing centre for hauliers bound for France via Dublin Port and Rosslare Europort is opening at Gorey Services on the M11 this afternoon.
The Dublin Airport service is available in the Blue long-stay carpark.
Drivers arriving in France must produce their negative test and a signed 'declaration of honour' form confirming they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been a close contact in the past two weeks.
A third antigen centre is expected to be opened near Wexford town in the coming days.