Picture shows lorry drivers 'mixing without masks' at Harwich Port

A VETERAN turned lorry driver has reported drivers from across Europe are mixing indoors in close proximity without face coverings at one of the busiest international ports in the country. Mark Hermon, 48, has been driving lorries for a haulage firm for six years. He says he must enter the freight office at Harwich International Port every morning but feels he is putting his own safety at risk.

“In this office you have drivers from Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungry, Germany and Holland – some of those countries are in total lockdown – mixing with British drivers,” he said. “They are mixing with little social distancing and many often not wearing masks. “Some are going to pick a trailer up, some are going to drop a trailer off, some are getting their passports scanned and paying before getting a ferry.

“Sometimes you can have 20 people in the office, sometimes the queue is coming out the door. “Lorry drivers mix like this then go all over the place, all over the UK. “Drivers are subsequently stopping at petrol stations and visiting shops in the area around Harwich.”

Mr Hermon left the Army in 2012 as a warrant officer after more than 20 years of service with the Royal Fusiliers. He served tours of duty in the Middle East at the height of the Iraq War, but now rather than fearing for his comrades, he fears for his vulnerable colleagues.

“Port staff may not care but I care, that’s why I’m speaking up about this,” he said. “A driver I know currently has leukaemia, he has hospital appointments every four weeks, he has to go in there regularly to book in his trailer.” Mr Hermon, from Harwich, felt his only recourse was to film the practise of drivers in the office and send the footage to the Gazette.

“That’s the thing, when I was in there I just felt like flipping out and grabbing people, throwing them out of the office,” he said. “In the Army that’s what I would have done, there would be some discipline, but I can’t in this job.” A spokesman for Hutchinson Ports said: “We have signs on display inside and outside the office asking people to wear masks and to socially distance, we also provide hand sanitiser.

“We also remind drivers to wear face coverings and they are generally compliant to our requests. “Our staff all wear masks and are behind a full-height perspex screen which goes from the counter to the ceiling to protect both them and drivers. “All of the passport scans are done by the driver and all payments taken are by card.

“We have changed all of our processes so our staff do not need to physically handle any paperwork from the drivers to protect both them and the drivers.”