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Delays and Disruptions at Port of Dover due to Staff Sickness and Storm Gerrit

Passengers traveling to Europe through the Port of Dover are facing substantial delays today, primarily due to staff sickness among French border officials. In addition to staffing issues, the region has been grappling with adverse weather conditions brought on by Storm Gerrit.

The Port of Dover, a critical gateway for travelers between the United Kingdom and continental Europe, witnessed delays of up to three hours earlier today, as strong winds from Storm Gerrit battered the county, further compounding the disruptions already caused by the staff shortages.

The waiting time for travelers has since been reduced to 100 minutes, but the situation remains far from ideal.

Announcing the delays on social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), the Port of Dover stated: “The current wait time at the French border is 100 minutes. The additional processing time today is a result of staff sickness within Police aux Frontières. All teams are working hard to get everyone on their way as quickly as possible.”

Passengers arriving at the port are typically processed by Police aux Frontières (PAF), French border workers, before they can board ferries. Those who missed their booked departures due to the long queues have been accommodated on the next available sailings with available space.

The ripple effect of these disruptions for ferry operations has had consequences on the roads in the town. Currently, one lane is closed on the A20 as Dover Traffic Access Protocol (TAP) is implemented on the coastbound stretch from the Roundhill Tunnel. The left-hand lane is exclusively designated for lorries heading to the Port of Dover, while all other traffic must use the right-hand lane.

Adding to the challenges posed by staff sickness and heavy traffic, Storm Gerrit has prompted a yellow weather warning from The Met Office, which is in place until 6 pm. Coastal parts of the county could experience winds ranging between 50mph and 60mph, with the strongest gusts hitting exposed headlands. High-sided vehicles on exposed routes and bridges face an increased risk, and coastal routes, seafronts, and communities may be affected by spray and large waves.

Despite these challenges, ferry operators DFDS and P&O have reassured customers that they will still be able to travel even if they miss their initially booked sailing times.

P&O conveyed on X: “There are currently queues at passport control, please allow an extra 180 minutes to clear all security checks, before check-in closes 60 minutes before your booked sailing time. Rest assured, if you miss your sailing, you’ll be on the first available once at check-in.”

DFDS also provided assurance: “We are aware of the wait times at controls to complete necessary checks for travel. Please be rest assured that if you miss your booked departure, our teams are ready to accommodate you onto the next available departure upon arrival at the DFDS check-in.”

As a precaution, people in the affected areas are advised to check road conditions and bus and train timetables before setting off. Additionally, it’s recommended to prepare for power cuts by having torches, batteries, and a mobile phone power pack on hand. For those walking near cliffs and coasts, knowing their route and keeping dogs on a lead is strongly advised. In case of emergencies, individuals should call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

The Port of Dover and the authorities continue to monitor the situation closely, with hopes that conditions will improve and disruptions will be minimized as swiftly as possible. Travelers are encouraged to stay updated with the latest information from relevant authorities and service providers.

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