BRUSSELS, Feb. 15, 2021 (Press Release) -CLECAT is extremely concerned about the consequences of the tightened entry regulations for transport workers in multiple European Member States, which are causing major hindrances for the transport and logistics sector on the north-south axis.
Following the most recent decision of Germany (in force since 14 February) to include the Czech Republic, Slovakia and parts of Tyrol region in Austria to the list of places considered as ‘areas of variant concern’, employees in the transport sector coming from these places must register their entry to Germany with immediate effect. Even if transport workers only transit through the regions that have been declared as ‘areas of variant concern’, they have to present a certified negative test. These new measures have caused immediate border congestion, extensive detours and, as a result, serious disruption of supply chains.
‘We understand that the Member States need to respond to the dynamic development of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we must learn from the lessons of the first wave and ensure that Member States respect the Green Lanes for freight transport, rather than return to national policies of closing borders,’ warns CLECAT President Willem van der Schalk.
Austria has already reacted to the restrictive German entry regulations and has limited the access to its territory and thus transit of trucks from Italy over the Brenner pass. ‘A chain reaction and escalation of national entry restrictions will have a devastating impact on supply chains,’ notes Mr van der Schalk, adding that the lack of testing facilities at the borders creates additional difficulties for truck drivers and thus the seamless movement of goods.
Despite the corona crisis, the logistics sector has been able to support the economy and the society, thanks to its flexibility to ensure the delivery of goods under difficult conditions. The European Commission has recognised the essential role of freight transport and transport workers, who should not be required to provide negative tests before entering other EU countries or be subject to quarantine upon arrival in order to keep supply chains moving. CLECAT therefore once again calls on the Member States to respect the Commission’s guidelines.
There are also good examples in Europe. For instance, Sweden has very clearly introduced the guidelines with no room for interpretation: the temporary entry restrictions do not apply to transport staff, even when traveling to or from their vehicle, aircraft or ship (to perform or after completing a transport operation). The exception also covers professional drivers whose vehicles and cargo are already in Sweden. Empty transports can be covered if they are part of the transport chain.
The logistics industry has acted consistently, with its employees largely working from home and implementing comprehensive hygiene concepts wherever people have to work together on site to maintain the supply chain. As truck drivers hardly come into contact with other people during their cross-border operations, the new entry regulations introduced over the last couple of days damage the economies at the time of crisis.