Port of Dover reopens

The Port of Dover has reopened to traffic heading to France following an agreement between the UK and French authorities, but only for customers who have had a COVID test with a negative result.

Drivers of freight vehicles should not attempt to travel directly to the Port until they have a valid COVID test.

All freight drivers in Kent requiring a test must head to Manston to prepare for a lateral-flow COVID test unless already queueing on the M20, in which case drivers and any passengers will be tested in situ.

Passenger traffic including French nationals, EU citizens, those with French residency and those carrying out essential trips must procure a COVID test (PCR or lateral-flow) and achieve a valid negative result less than 72 hours before attempting to travel to and from the Port.

Whilst the COVID-related disruption at the port was limited to just two days, the sudden stop may have affected £2bn of exports between the UK and EU (£1.2bn for EU goods, £0.8bn for UK goods), according to figures from Euler Hermes.

There may also be a spike in insurance claims as a result. Jonathan Moss, insurance partner and head of transport at law firm, DWF explains: "The standard Institute Cargo Clauses (A) clauses exclude delay under clause 4.5, but they include forwarding expenses for specific reasons. The duration, termination of transit and change of voyage clauses all provide cover for cargo should destinations change and advice be given to underwriters subject to exclusions.

“The duration, termination of transit and change of voyage clauses all provide cover for cargo should destinations change and advice be given to underwriters subject to exclusions. However, on 17th April 2020, Lloyd's Joint Cargo Committee, the JCC, published a new communicable disease clause which excludes “any loss, damage, liability, claim, cost or expense of whatsoever nature caused by, contributed to by, resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with a Communicable Disease or the fear or threat (whether actual or perceived) of a Communicable Disease regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any other sequence thereto.”

Moss says this means that those policies which include the communicable disease exclusion clause could prevent hauliers and freight forwarders and those entities engaged in the transportation of goods, from recovering losses. "Underwriters had the choice to: 1) use a full exclusion or 2) to use an alternative exclusion with a limited buy-back. The buy-back option afforded a measure of expenses coverage in line with each specific policy wording. Each policy should be scrutinised carefully to see whether the exclusions apply or if there is any scope for cover,” he added.

Health and safety duties for employers

Employers have a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to protect workers and others from risks to their health and safety, including from the risks of infection with coronavirus (COVID-19).

This guidance sets out the measures to be followed by those transporting accompanied freight into and from continental Europe.

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