Shop staff hand out food to stranded drivers

France imposed the 48-hour ban on Sunday (December 20) following the discovery of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 that has become widespread in London and the southeast of England.

Paris and London agreed late on Tuesday (December 22) that drivers carrying a negative test result could board ferries for Calais from Wednesday (December 23) after much of the world shut its borders to Britain to contain the new mutated variant.

British military personnel could be seen testing drivers at the port along with French fire fighters.

One driver waiting in the queue said around 100 vehicles per hour were allowed to enter the port.

"Well, I hope the government let me jump on the ferry and they keep going over Christmas, home," Wojciech Firak, a Polish businessman who lives in Aberdeen and has been in his car since Monday (December 21) with his wife and daughter, told Reuters.

"That's what I hope and what I wish for every driver. But if they don't let me go I will spend Christmas here. I don't have a choice," Firak said.

The Road Haulage Association, which estimated there were up to 10,000 trucks being held up in Kent, said the situation was chaotic and could take days to clear the backlog.