France, and others, added to quarantine list
New UK quarantine measures were imposed on France to take effect from 04.00 BST on Saturday 15th of August. The 14-day self-isolation stipulation also applies to travellers returning from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos and Aruba.
On Tuesday, France’s Prime Minister, Jean Castex, said that coronavirus numbers had been going "the wrong way" for a fortnight and two days later, France reported 2,524 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the highest daily increase since its lockdown was lifted in May. Clement Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs, tweeted that the UK's decision was a matter of "regret" for the French with France warning it would take "reciprocal measures".
In the UK, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision was triggered when the rate of infection in the affected countries exceeded 20 cases per 100,000 people over seven days. The quarantine requirement was previously applied to Spain, another popular destination for UK holidaymakers, on the 25th of July.
"We've worked so hard in this country to get our level of infections down, the last thing we want to do is have people returning and bringing the infection with them. It's to protect everybody," Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast.
There are about 160,000 British holidaymakers currently in France, he said. The deadline is expected to induce a rush to ports and airports, with thousands of tourists desperate to avoid quarantine. Others who cannot return in time face disruption to work or schooling.
Airlines UK described the quarantine restrictions as "another devastating blow to the travel industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history".
The UK's ambassador to France, Lord Llewellyn, acknowledged that the new quarantine rule would be "unwelcome news" for Britons in the country, but stressed that people could continue with their holidays as long as they follow safety precautions and self-isolate on their return.
Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said while the Labour party supports evidence based measures at the border, it was vital that the Government has a joined-up strategy and puts in place a specific deal to support the heavily impacted travel sector. He added, "That the government has still not put in place an effective track, trace and isolate system has made matters far worse and made it more likely that we are reliant on the blunt tool of 14-day quarantine." He went on to demand that Downing Street publishes the science behind its decisions, "and details of any work being done to reduce the time needed to isolate through increased testing and other measures".
According to the data company Statista, people from the UK paid 10.35 million visits to France last year, putting it second behind Spain, with 18.12 million visits, in terms of popularity. The UK Foreign Office is now warning against "all but essential travel" to France.
A list of more than 50 ‘travel corridors’ which allowed movement between the UK and the other countries without the need to self-isolate on return was first published at the start of last month and later expanded.
The Department of Transport has described a "significant change" in the risk of contracting Covid-19 in those countries removed from the list. It added that there had been a 66% increase in newly reported cases per 100,000 people in France since last Friday. Cases in the Netherlands had increased by 52%, 105% for Malta, 273% for Turks and Caicos and 1,106% for Aruba.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to be "absolutely ruthless" in deciding on rules for holidaymakers from abroad saying "We can't be remotely complacent about our own situation. Everybody understands that in a pandemic you don't allow our population to be re-infected or the disease to come back in."
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