France drops negative COVID-19 test requirement for Irish hauliers

FILE PHOTO: A lab technician takes a swab sample from haulier George McGlashan, who drove from Northern Ireland delivering cheese and is onward bound to France to pick up meat, at RocDoc's rapid antigen coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility in conjunction with the Department of Transport, at Dublin Airport, Ireland January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

DUBLIN (Reuters) - France will no longer require proof of a negative coronavirus test result from hauliers travelling directly from Ireland, the Irish transport government said on Friday, citing very low positivity rates among commercial vehicle drivers.

Irish traders are increasingly shipping goods directly to and from European ports, rather than the once-speedier route via the so-called UK landbridge, as a result of red tape and delays after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The Irish transport ministry said in a statement the French government had informed it of the decision.

Paris introduced the requirement in January after the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in Britain became dominant in Ireland.

Proof of a negative test will still be required for drivers travelling from Britain to France or the Netherlands, meaning any Irish hauliers entering either country via Britain must still have proof of a negative result.

Just 14 positive results were returned from 5,743 antigen tests carried out on drivers from Jan. 28 to March 4, Ireland’s transport ministry said, a positivity rate of 0.24%.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Barbara Lewis