Published: 12:13, 24 December 2020
| Updated: 12:21, 24 December 2020
Foreign lorry drivers trapped at Dover have been sent to the Isle of Sheppey for testing.
Kent County Council arranged for German hauliers to call at Sheerness East Working Men's Club where it has set up Swale's first mass covid test centre for anyone without coronavirus symptoms.
Matt Brown, who chairs the Sheerness Town Council and is working at the centre, said: "KCC arranged for stranded German lorry drivers to visit for a test. They needed the all-clear to get home for Christmas after France reopened its border with the UK ."
He added: "A guy also called and we stayed open so he could get a test as his partner was going into labour and he needed an all-clear to be present at the birth."
Queues were sparse when the centre opened at Halfway on Friday, December 18, as residents struggled to find an online booking page.
Health bosses at KCC insisted the slots were reserved for key workers. But many essential staff complained they were not being invited.
After the link was shared on social media the take-up soared with queues at one point stretching across the car park and into the road.
But Cllr Brown said: “Everyone has been patient and polite and seemed to be extremely grateful for the effort. The maximum wait has been about 30 minutes.”
The centre chalked up 577 tests on Tuesday, near its capacity of 600 a day, with staff claiming it was getting “much busier” on Wednesday.
Sheerness Town Council has been so impressed it has written a letter thanking KCC for organising the centre and has dispatched a letter to Paula Smith who manages the social club. The club is not being paid for the hire of its main hall. It said it was doing it “for the community.”
The centre is due to stay on Sheppey for six weeks. Cllr Brown said: "It has generally been a fairly slick operation."
KCC was asked for a comment.