The introduction of rapid testing for Northern Ireland hauliers heading to France has been welcomed by the Health Minister Robin Swann and the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.
With immediate effect, freight drivers are able to book online to access the established asymptomatic test sites at Queen’s University (Whitla Hall) and Ulster University (Belfast, Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee campuses). The testing will be undertaken using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), drivers are expected to receive their results within an hour of the test being taken.
This follows constructive engagement involving the Department of Health and the Department for Infrastructure, which regulates the haulage industry, local Universities and representatives of the freight haulage sector in a collaborative effort to support drivers and reduce potential disruption and delays as they carry goods across to Europe. The French Government requires that freight drivers travelling from the UK and the Republic of Ireland can only enter France if they can provide evidence of a negative LFD test result from a test taken within 72 hours prior to travel.
Health Minister Robin Swann welcomed the provision of the service for freight hauliers in Northern Ireland and thanked both Universities for agreeing to provide this service through their established network of test sites.
“The requirement for a negative test result for those drivers travelling to France has created a demand for testing in Northern Ireland prior to departure. I recognise the importance of providing this testing which will play a part in reducing the risks to drivers and their goods travelling to the ports across the UK and Ireland.”
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “This collaborative approach will ensure that drivers can commence their journey confident of being able reach their destination without undue delay. I am pleased to work in partnership with the Department of Health, the local Universities and the haulage industry on the introduction of this important testing service.
“I urge those working in the haulage industry to familiarise themselves with these new arrangements which aim to minimise disruption in the transportation of lorries and goods across Europe.”
Times & Places
The location and opening hours of each site are as follows:
- Queen’s University Belfast – Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 8pm.
- Ulster University Belfast Campus and Coleraine Campus – Mondays and Thursdays from 9am to 5pm.
- Ulster University Jordanstown Campus and Magee Campus – Tuesdays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm.
Each driver must bring photographic identification and a letter from their employer confirming that they are a professional driver travelling to France in the next 72 hours.
The test sample will be processed within 30 minutes and the HGV drivers should receive their results within 60 minutes. Drivers should stay on site until they receive their results in case they need to be retested in the event of a void test result.