Published: 11:15, 26 December 2020
| Updated: 19:29, 26 December 2020
No lorries remain stranded at Manston airfield following a monumental effort to get drivers home to their families.
Emergency teams - supported by more than 1,000 military personnel - have been working around the clock, carrying out almost 16,000 tests on truckers stuck at the site, on the M20 and at the Port of Dover.
A caveat of entry is now a negative coronavirus test, leading to a huge operation to swab all drivers hoping to cross The Channel.
On Christmas Eve more than 3,000 lorries remained stuck at Manston, but as of midday today the site had been cleared.
There are still 1,600 stuck in Operation Brock, but more than 8,000 HGVs have crossed the border via Eurotunnel or the Port of Dover since December 23.
Of 15,526 drivers tested, 36 have returned positive results.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: "Manston now empty and lorries should no longer head there please.
"A massive THANK YOU to everyone who's worked tirelessly over the past few days to reduce the huge disruption caused by the sudden French border closure. Police, military, planners, councils, charities, border staff - all have rallied to bring food and drink to stranded hauliers."
At about 2.15pm, Highways England south east also tweeted to say the M20 from junction 9 for Ashford London-bound to junction 8 for Hollingbourne has partially reopened to all drivers.
The carriageway is still operating a contraflow system under Operation Brock to help manage freight heading to Dover or to Eurotunnel, but now other traffic can join the motorway.
The other lanes between junction 8 and junction 9 remain closed to non-freight traffic.
The agency also thanked people for their patience.
And also on the M20, the Polish Territorial Defence Forces are helping other organisations to carry out Covid tests on drivers still stuck on the motorway.
Ferry operator DFDS says it carried 1,846 lorries to France on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
A spokesman said: "On Christmas Eve DFDS ran extra sailings from Dover - the last sailing to Calais should have been at 12 noon, but they continued into the evening - and was able to ship 618 freight units on its routes to Calais and Dunkirk.
"The company ran return sailings to both Calais and Dunkirk on Christmas Day for the first time ever. In total, it shipped 1,228 freight units yesterday on the two routes.
"It has planned enough capacity on both days to ship more than 2,000 units each day, but ongoing logistical issues with getting freight to the port meant that traffic was reaching the ships a bit slower than they would have liked.
"So across the two days 1,846 lorries were carried by DFDS. We understand that most of the backlog at Manston has now been cleared and also some of those stacked on the M20. Sailings have continued today.
"The company would also like to express its sincere thanks to all employees who gave up their valuable time off on Christmas Day to help the efforts to repatriate the drivers who had been stuck in Kent. Everyone stepped up to the extraordinary circumstances and it was a fantastic team effort to help get people home."
The operation to test all drivers for Covid-19 has been one of epic proportions.
Yesterday, an extra 800 military personnel were drafted in to help at Manston - joining 300 already at the site.
They were joined by 30 French firefighters and 60 Polish soldiers.
Those testing negative are allowed to travel to France, while anyone returning a positive result must undergo a PCR test. If that too is positive they will have to isolate at local hotels.
Drivers yet to be tested are being provided with food, water and toilets, but say there are no shower facilities.
Attela Kaliman and Robert Henstencz speak about life at Manston
Volunteers have also been passing meals over Manston's boundary fence.
In Ashford, residents responded to a plea on Facebook from a German driver who desperately wanted a shower by organising for truckers to use a nearby Holiday Inn.
This is in addition to the 4,000-capacity - revised down to 3,800 to allow for testing - at Manston.
On Tuesday morning scuffles broke out at Dover between police and frustrated drivers who, having been stranded at the port for days, were seeing other lorries coming from Manston and entering.
Those in Dover were being tested in their vehicles from about 4pm in an attempt to clear the gridlock - although drivers are still being told to head to Manston, with others being diverted to a centre on Sheppey.
The first few cars and lorries were seen heading for a ferry after receiving a negative Covid test at about 6pm. There were reports this seemed to stop at around 9pm and that tension was starting to flare again.
There were also stand-offs at Manston as drivers attempted to leave and others enter. Later in the day an army of people arrived to get food and drink to the drivers.
Graham Pask, from the Road Haulage Association, called the situation a "humanitarian crisis" and compared the French government to a "dictatorship" "holding lorry drivers hostage".
Talks between the French and the UK governments came to an end on Tuesday evening and the ban was lifted that night.
All drivers, irrespective of nationality, require a lateral flow test. This can detect the new strain of Covid-19 and provide results in around 30 minutes, rather than the 24 hours required after a PCR test.
The French government will also carry out sample testing on incoming freight to the UK.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said after the deal was made with the French: "I am pleased that we have made this important progress with our French counterparts this evening. This protocol will see the French border reopen to those travelling for urgent reasons, provided they have a certified negative Covid test.
"We continue to urge hauliers not to travel to Kent until further notice as we work to alleviate congestion."
Rules for drivers will be temporarily relaxed to allow them to get through quickly.