Thousands of British tourists scramble back home to beat quarantine deadline
Over 150,000 UK travelers were scrambling back to the United Kingdom from France yesterday, just hours before new severe quarantine restrictions were to kick in.
From 04:00 BST (0300 GMT) today (Saturday, August 15), any person traveling to UK from France must self-quarantine at home self-isolating for the duration of two full weeks.
The new restrictions were announced on Thursday night by British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps following a sharp spike in COVID-19 risk in six countries, including France, the Netherlands, Monaco and Malta.
The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in Britain.
Shapps announced last week that travelers returning to the country from Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra will have to quarantine at home for 14 days from Aug. 8, citing rising COVID-19 infection levels in the three countries.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll rose by 10 to 41,357 on Friday as the number of new cases recorded in 24 hours reached its highest level in two months.
In the 24-hour period up to Friday morning, there had been a further 1,441 lab-confirmed cases, according to official government figures. Overall, a total of 316,367 cases have been confirmed.
The daily figure for positive tests is the highest since June 14.
Lockdown restrictions in parts of England, including Greater Manchester and Leicester, are to remain in place, the British government said Friday.
Restrictions on household gatherings in parts of the North West, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester will continue, the British Department of Health and Social Care said.
The decision to add France to Britain’s quarantine list will cause dismay for thousands of British holidaymakers currently in the country.
France is said to be the most popular European holiday destination after Spain, which has already been on the British quarantine list.
Britons face paying hundreds of pounds if they try to return from France on Friday after it was removed from the list of safe countries people can travel to without going into quarantine.
British Airways is charging 452 pounds (about 592 U.S. dollars) for the cheapest tickets to fly direct from Paris to London Heathrow, while the same journey on Saturday can be made for just 66 pounds (about 86 U.S. dollars), the Evening Standard newspaper reported.
The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is 210 pounds (about 275 U.S. dollars), compared with 165 (about 216 U.S. dollars) on Saturday.
The measures will be reviewed again next week.