Hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers’ plans have been thrown into chaos after the government announced that France will be added to the UK’s 14-day quarantine list, following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The new rules will come into affect from 4am on Saturday and are expected to induce a rush to ports and airports, with thousands of tourists desperate to avoid quarantine.
Eurotunnel have said they are struggling to deal with the volume of inquiries and have warned travellers not to arrive at the terminal without a confirmed booking.
As well as France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba have also been added to the list.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision was triggered when the rate of infection in these countries exceeded 20 cases per 100,000 people over seven days.
He tweeted: “Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN.”
The French junior minister for European affairs, Clément Beaune, suggested late on Thursday that the UK’s action will lead to a reciprocal measure, adding that France regrets the move.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Shadow Home Secretary, said it was vital the government recognises the impact the decision will have on the travel industry:
“While we support evidence based measures at the border, it’s vital that the Government has a joined-up strategy, and recognises the impact of this on travel-related businesses. It is vital that a sector-specific deal is put in place urgently.
“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.
“The Government should publish all of the scientific evidence its decisions are based on and details of any work being done to reduce the time needed to isolate through increased testing and other measures.”
Alongside these new measures, The Foreign Office is once again advising British citizens against all but essential travel to the affected countries.