Six months of the pandemic: opening of borders, documents needed and restrictions on truck traffic
Several months of the pandemic have seriously changed the transport industry. In addition to numerous restrictions on transport and changes in drivers’ working hours, the coronavirus also affected the labor market and the functioning of transport companies. Half of the year brought some easing of the restrictions, but it will take some time to recover completely.
As early as May, the European Commission pointed out that the European Union should already start to implement a transitional phase – gradual reduction of health checks at border crossings, abolition of quarantine applied independently of symptoms and opening of internal borders of the Schengen Community. Brussels officials pointed out that, despite of the precautionary measures, action must be taken in such a way to provide the continuity of the supply chain and maintain cargo shipments secured and protected.
The EC published these guidelines in “COVID-19: Guidelines for the gradual restoration of transport services and connections”. According to the recommendations, member states should as soon as possible – if the national situation allows – restore bans and smoothness of truck traffic and rules on driving and rest periods for professional drivers. Any restrictions should be harmonised and limited to absolute necessity.
Border controls of European Union countries
Member States have been following the guidelines since early June. The EC recommended the abolition of controls inside the Community and all Schengen countries from mid-June. The gradual opening of external borders is to take place at the beginning of July.
Poland abolished border controls and restrictions on border crossings on 13 June. Since the middle of the month, international flights and other means of transport – trains and coaches – are also possible.
Germany abolished border controls with Austria, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark. When crossing the country’s borders, there is no need to provide evidence and justify the urgent need to travel. The checks were limited to random operations. For the border with Luxembourg, checks have been abolished altogether.
France and Italy
France has lifted restrictions at its borders for travelers from the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican. Exceptions apply only to persons coming from Spain and the UK.
Italy opened its internal border on 3 June.
Czech Republic and Slovakia
The Czech Republic has opened its borders to citizens of almost all EU countries, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The border restrictions apply only to travelers from Silesia, Belgium, Portugal, the UK and Sweden.
Meanwhile, Slovakia on 10 June relaxed restrictions at border crossings for travelers from Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, Germany, Norway, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland.
At the Slovak-Polish border, checks will take place until 26 June. The only opened border crossing points are Trstená-Chyžné and Vyšný Komárnik-Barwinek.
Austria and Hungary
Austria opened its borders on 4th June. Traffic with Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Hungary has been restored.
Hungary opened its borders on 12th June. So far the borders with Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have been smooth.
Spain and Portugal
Spain opened its borders on 21 June, with the exception of Portugal, which is due to open on 1 July. Portugal will abolish controls at the beginning of July.
Denmark and Finland
Denmark introduced some relaxation in June, although it has still not opened its borders. Persons living permanently in Germany, Norway and Iceland may enter Denmark, but may stay no longer than 6 nights. This rule does not apply to Copenhagen. Drivers can stay in Denmark without restrictions.
Transport, including transit, is via the border crossing points Frøslev, Sæd and Padborg. Vehicles under 3.5 t can also use the Kruså crossing. All crossings are open 24 hours a day, except for Padborg, which is only available from 7 am to 11 pm.
Finland has also opened its borders to travelers from the EU and the Schengen area, but has maintained some restrictions on the border with Sweden, where the disease rate is the highest of all Scandinavian countries.
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
The borders between the three Baltic States were opened in mid-May. The road transport traffic is running smoothly.
Bulgaria and Romania
On 1st June Bulgaria also opened its borders to travelers within the EU and from neighboring countries. Romania’s borders have been opened to Hungarians – for other countries, Romanians still apply restrictions.
Other EU countries have also opened their internal borders – Croatia, Cyprus and Belgium. It is also worth remembering that the entry of non-Schengen third country nationals into the EU is prohibited for the time being. Appropriate loosening of restrictions is to be introduced from the beginning of July.
Additional obligations for drivers when crossing borders
The opening of borders in most Member States does not mean that international transport in the EU has returned to its pre-pandemic state. There are still some rules and orders for drivers.
Form for entry into the UK
Since 8 June, people travelling to the UK are subject to a 14-day quarantine. Drivers are exempt from this obligation, but at the earliest 48 hours prior to entry they must report their journey by submitting a special “Public Health Passenger Locator Form“.
The form must contain your personal details, contact details and information about your stay in the Islands and your destination. For drivers, the purpose can be justified on the basis of the CMR, the Community licence or a letter from their employer. A digital or printed version of the form must be presented at the border together with any of these documents.
Documents needed for entry into France
Two documents must be presented when entering France:
- a statement of travel to France Territorial “Attestation de déplacement dérogatoire vers la France métropolitaine”,
2) “Attestation of déplacement dérogatoire versus la France métropolitaine depuis les pays tiers et déclaration sur l’honneur”.
Both documents in English can be downloaded from the French Ministry of the Interior here: >>> Documents needed for France.
Compulsory forms in Italy
As of 3 June, no additional documents are needed at the entrance to Italy (previously the relevant declarations were required). Lorry drivers are also not subject to time limits for staying in the country.
New rules of transit in Belarus
In the meantime, certain restrictions continue to apply in Belarus. Drivers passing through the country in transit must adhere to the established routes and parking lots for trucks. A map with routes available to drivers is available in this article: Where to look for proven information for drivers in a pandemic.
It is worth noting that Belarus has tightened its transit rules. Now navigation seals are applied to trucks to prevent the breaking of the rules. The equipment is put on and off at border crossings.
Restrictions on truck traffic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many EU countries changed or completely cancelled the restrictions on heavy goods vehicle traffic. Now the regulations have changed again.
Restrictions in Germany
In some of the German Länder, bans on truck traffic have already returned to their pre-pandemic state. As of 21 June, the bans were lifted in the three Länder: Bavaria, Saxony and Berlin.
Then, on 30 June, the relaxations in Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg and Baden-Württemberg disappeared.
The next wave of reinstatement is scheduled for the end of August. At that time the traffic bans will again take effect in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Bremen. After 30 September, restrictions will be restored in Brandenburg.
Truck traffic in Spain
As of 21 June 2020, the lorry-ride relaxation in Catalonia has been abolished. The bans on vehicles over 7.5t GVW (gross vehicle weight) have been reinstated. There are also some new restrictions:
– on Saturdays between 10 and 14 on the N-II road from 630 kilometers to 682 kilometers in both directions,
– on Sundays and holidays from 17 to 22 in both directions on the N-II from 630 km to 682 km; on the N-340 from Villafranca del Penedés to Cervelló and on the N-340A from Cervelló to Quatre Camins,
– every Saturday in July from 10 or 11 am to 2 pm and every Sunday in July from 5 pm to 10 pm on various Catalan roads.
– Restrictions in the Aran valley during the winter season on the N-230, between 149 and 187 kilometers and on sections between 116 and 149 kilometers.
In addition, there is a ban on the N-240 and N-340 and an obligatory redirection to the AP-7 and AP-2 toll roads for trucks with 4 or more axles and with GVW over 26 t.
>>> More about truck traffic restrictions in the free “Bans For Trucks” application.