13.1.2021 | Ports

Vaccinate us say Customs staff to keep trade moving

Road Haulage Association supports the argument to accelerate vaccinations of port and customs staff.

Customs operators have pleaded with the government to prioritise vaccinations for staff they insist are key front-line workers in the effort to keep vital supplies flowing into the UK.

Reported by the BBC today (13th January), one operator said his staff were working flat out – often up to 16 hours a day – to help traders comply with the new post-Brexit customs requirements.

“A Covid outbreak would be disastrous. Customs clearance staff should be identified as key workers and fast-tracked for vaccination.”

Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association supports the argument to accelerate vaccinations of port and customs staff. “Customs agents are absolutely swamped, they are understaffed by tens of thousands and although volumes have been light thanks to pre-Christmas and pre-Brexit stockpiling, we are approaching a critical point.”

Steve Cock of logistics firm KGH said that volume would begin to build this week and described Friday as “a moment of truth” as volumes would be close to normal, imposing the first serious test of the system’s capacity.

The government told the BBC that vaccination priorities were based on clinical vulnerability determined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Although the government said it would be looking at key workers beyond the current priorities – like teachers – that would not come till after phase 1 of the current programme ends. That is not expected till late March at the earliest.

Although the ports themselves have been running reasonably smoothly, that is because many traders aren’t getting as far as the ports as their documentation is not complete.

Source: bbc.co.uk