UK govt tightens quarantine rules for travellers returning from France
The U.K. government reimposed quarantine rules on travellers returning to England from France because of concern at the number of Covid-19 infections there, drawing immediate anger from tourism bodies and airlines.
From Monday, anyone arriving from across the Channel will have to isolate at home for up to 10 days and complete two coronavirus tests even if they have two vaccinations, the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement Friday.
The new system, dubbed “Amber Plus” to draw a distinction from the government’s Amber list of restricted countries, will apply to all English travelers currently in France. Spain and Italy -- both major holiday destinations for Britons -- remain on the Amber list.
The move adds a further level of complexity for English families trying to plot their way through the summer after the end of a torrid school year, and comes days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to lift most Covid restrictions on Monday. The decision also delivers another setback to a tourism industry that was beginning to look to the future with guarded optimism.
“This decision adds yet more confusion to a travel system already complex enough,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive officer of Airlines UK. “These random rule changes make it almost impossible for travelers and industry to plan ahead, and can only further undermine consumer trust at the very peak of the summer season.”
The government cited what it called the “persistent presence” in France of cases of the beta variant first identified in South Africa for its decision.
“With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.
The announcement came hours after official figures showed the U.K. had more than 50,000 new infections for the first time in six months, the bulk of them being the delta variant. France reported more than 10,000 new cases Friday, with more than 60% of them delta.
“The U.K. has no coherent policy on international travel,” said Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association. “The U.K. is entrenching itself as outlier in its confused approach to travel. This, in turn, is destroying its own travel sector and the thousands of jobs that rely on it.”
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