train covid

Boris Johnson's UK government is adding France to its quarantine list as its number of coronavirus continues to rise sharply.
Hundreds of thousands of British tourists face a scramble to return from France after Boris Johnson's UK government announced that holidaymakers returning from there would have to quarantine for 14 days as of this weekend.

The UK on Thursday said France, along with five other countries including the Netherlands and Malta, would be removed from the "green list" of countries which are exempt from quarantine restrictions as the country recorded a sharp uptick in coronavirus infections.

"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 UK's Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Twitter.

"If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days."

It means that an estimated 400,000 holidaymakers who are currently in France — according to figures from the Telegraph newspaper — face a rush to book flights and trains home before the quarantine restrictions are introduced in the early hours of Saturday morning. France is the second most-visited country for UK holidaymakers after Spain, according to Reuters.

Johnson's government has said that people quarantining after returning to the UK are not eligible for statutory sick pay, meaning that many lose their wages if they are unable to work from home.

The decision is likely to put a significant strain on train services and flights. "It's important that people understand it's not going to be easy to get back," John Keefe, UK director of public affairs for Eurotunnel, told BBC Newsnight on Thursday, in comments reported by Politico.

He said transport providers would seek to arrange extra train services but ferries are operating at lower capacity to comply with social distancing guidelines and there are fewer flights at the moment than usual, meaning prices are likely to soar.

A French minister raised the possibility that France could introduce reciprocal measures, which could involve British tourists being asked to quarantine in France on their arrival.

"A British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity, hoping that things will return to normal as soon as possible," said the Clément Beaune, the French junior minister for European affairs in comments translated by the Telegraph.

French health officials recorded 2,699 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Thursday, according to Reuters, and more than 2,500 the day previously, bringing infection rates to levels not seen since mid-April when the country was under strict lockdown measures. The seven-day average of new infections rose to 1,962, a total which has doubled over the last two weeks.