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County ready for border reopening, says Kent Resilience Forum

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With international travel restrictions being lifted on July 19, Kent’s roads are prepared.

That’s the message from the Kent Resilience Forum, a partnership of organisations aimed at keeping the county’s roads moving.

Increased passport checks, as well as pent-up demand, could see Kent's roads flooded with holiday-goers. Archive picture: Nadine Hudson
Increased passport checks, as well as pent-up demand, could see Kent’s roads flooded with holiday-goers. Archive picture: Nadine Hudson

Formed of groups including Kent County Council and Kent Police, the group says it is ready to meet its responsibilities when people head to Dover and Folkestone for European travel.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed plans today to remove guidance advising people not to travel to amber-listed countries.

Moreover, fully-vaccinated UK nationals – and those under 18 – won’t need to quarantine on return from amber-rated nations.

This change means popular destinations such as France and Spain will be available to double-dosed people who can’t afford to self-isolate upon returning to England.

This expected easing of restrictions comes after Britain formally left the European Union, so the Kent Resilience Forum is reminding travellers that full passport checks will be in effect – thus causing extra delays at the border.

Operation Brock could be employed if Kent's roads become too congested
Operation Brock could be employed if Kent’s roads become too congested

Leaders also urged tourists to check their passports, which need to be valid for at least six months.

One measure which could be used in the coming weeks is Operation Brock, the traffic mitigation scheme that was put to use during disruption over the Christmas period.

This could include the moveable barrier being employed on the M20 between Ashford and Maidstone as required, having been sat idle on the hard shoulder since it was last used in April.

Kent County Council has noted that stacking lorries at Manston Airfield is no longer an option, as the Government’s lease ran out at the end of June.

Chief superintendent Mark Nottage of Kent Police said: “Whilst it is understandable that people will want to make the most of the summer holidays and head abroad when they are able to, we recognise the potential for disruption on Kent’s roads that may result from vehicles heading to the ports in a relatively short space of time combined with the introduction of increased border checks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that tourists to France and Spain won't have to isolate upon their return
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that tourists to France and Spain won’t have to isolate upon their return

“It is therefore vital that anyone planning to travel through Kent follows the latest government advice, and information from their travel operator, and is prepared for potential delays that could also have an impact on the ability of freight to cross the Channel.

“We are continuing to work with our partners in the Kent Resilience Forum to plan for a reasonable worst-case scenario and help fulfil our joint responsibilities to protect the public and keep Kent moving.”

KCC’s director for highways and Kent Resilience Forum strategic planning lead, Simon Jones, said: “The combination of the Government’s decision to lift travel restrictions, fuller passport checks at borders, schools breaking up for summer and the popularity of Kent’s coast and countryside for staycations, will increase the risk of disruption on the county’s roads over the coming weeks.

Any traffic mitigation plans will have to forego the use of Manston, as the government lease ended last month
Any traffic mitigation plans will have to forego the use of Manston, as the government lease ended last month

“We’re keeping a particularly close eye on the weekend of July 24th-25th, the first weekend of the school holidays, when lots of families are likely to hit the road and head for a well-deserved break at home or abroad after many tough months of COVID restrictions.

“The KRF has updated traffic management plans ready to help keep Kent moving and protect local residents and businesses.

“We also need the public’s help to think a little bit differently about travelling this summer – our first outside of the EU – and to be prepared for delays.

“Whether it’s a long trip, or a short drive, all drivers need to plan their journey before setting off, be prepared for queues and stay tuned to the latest traffic and travel news.”

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Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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