Covid: Fully jabbed UK arrivals from France must still quarantine

By Becky Morton & Joseph Lee
BBC News

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Fully jabbed travellers returning to England and Wales from France will still should quarantine from Monday.

From 19 July, adults who’ve been double jabbed within the UK arriving from amber record international locations is not going to have to isolate for 10 days.

But the federal government mentioned the easing wouldn’t apply to France on account of “persistent” circumstances of the Beta variant, first recognized in South Africa.

There are considerations vaccines might not work as properly in opposition to the Beta variant.

The Beta variant accounts for about 10% of recent infections in France, however that features the Indian Ocean territories of Reunion and Mayotte, the place the variant is near-universal.

The extra infectious Delta variant – first recognized in India – accounts for nearly all new circumstances within the UK.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid mentioned: “We have always been clear that we will not hesitate to take rapid action at our borders to stop the spread of Covid-19 and protect the gains made by our successful vaccination programme.

“With restrictions lifting on Monday throughout the nation, we’ll do every thing we will to make sure worldwide journey is carried out as safely as doable, and shield our borders from the specter of variants.”

Travel firms have criticised the move, accusing the government of causing confusion.

Willie Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association said “the UK has no coherent coverage on worldwide journey” and is “destroying its personal journey sector and the 1000’s of jobs that depend on it”.

The government announcement means that anyone who has been in France in the previous 10 days will need to quarantine on arrival to England in their own accommodation and will need a day two and day eight test, regardless of their vaccination status.

This includes any fully vaccinated individual who transits through France from either a green or another amber country.

But ministers indicated that Eurostar passengers on services travelling through France would not need to quarantine if their train did not stop in the country.

Existing amber list exemptions for key workers such as hauliers will remain in place.

‘Difficult to understand’

Meanwhile, France has tightened its rules for UK travellers who are not fully vaccinated, requiring a negative test in the 24 hours before arrival from Sunday, rather than the 48 hours allowed previously.

But anyone fully vaccinated with a jab from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson will be exempt from providing a negative test.

French MEP Veronique Trillet-Lenoir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “obscure” the UK rules, as the Beta variant is “not current in any respect” in mainland France, with France’s cases mainly being found in its overseas territories.

BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield said there had been no official response from the French government yet, but it would be pushing for an explanation from its London counterpart for the toughened policy.

Travellers to the UK from France will still have the option of shortening their quarantine period through the Test to Release scheme – if they pay for a test on day five and are negative.

For arrivals from other amber list countries, the requirement to quarantine is being scrapped for the fully vaccinated and under-18s from Monday in all parts of the UK.

Each UK nation sets its own travel rules.

A Scottish government spokesperson said ministers were “contemplating one of the best strategy” for arrivals from France “as we glance to undertake a 4 nation strategy on worldwide journey, the place doable”.

Wales said it would be following the change set by England, while Northern Ireland is yet to announce its intention.

Prof John Edmunds, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a government adviser on the Sage committee, said the Beta variant was at low levels in the UK but, as immunity from vaccines increases, “circumstances are proper” for it to gain an advantage.

He told the Today programme that the Beta variant is probably less infectious than the dominant Delta variant, but it appears to be better able to evade the immune response from vaccines – particularly from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The UK is currently facing a “lengthy and drawn out” wave of infections from the Delta variant, he said, as it will not be brought down by lockdowns as previous peaks were.

He said cases are on course to hit 100,000 a day in about two weeks, although school closures may help to bring down the surge or cause it to level off. But high levels of infection were likely throughout the rest of the summer and autumn, he said.

‘Random rule changes’

Travel trade body Abta said the changes to travel to France will delay “any significant restoration for the business”, adding that financial support needed to be given to the sector.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry group Airlines UK, said: “These random rule adjustments make it virtually not possible for travellers and business to plan forward, and might solely additional undermine client belief on the very peak of the summer season season.”

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of EasyJet, said the government was “making it up as they go alongside and inflicting confusion and uncertainty”.

Labour said the move had created “full chaos”.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “In impact the federal government has introduced one more class for journey and so they’ve completed it on a Friday night… It is travellers and the travelling business that’s paying the value.”

‘It doesn’t appear logical’

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Georgina Thomas, a nurse from Buckinghamshire, is one of those affected by the change.

The 32-year-old has been visiting her parents in the countryside between La Rochelle and Bordeaux for the last three weeks with her baby daughter.

“I’m annoyed with the inconsistent strategy the federal government are taking, it would not all seem logical,” she told the PA news agency.

“If a quarantine is critical then so be it however I’m assured that my threat will probably be greater after I return to the UK.”

Ms Thomas, who is still on maternity leave, added: “It will probably be a protracted 10 days however we’re the lucky ones, I perceive that, loads will suppose we should not be travelling anyway.”

James Miles from West Sussex said the quarantine requirement had put his plans to visit his girlfriend in France for the first time since 1 January in jeopardy.

“This is absolutely affecting folks’s lives,” he said. “Seven months is a very long time to not see your accomplice. I am unable to even see the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel. Where will we go from right here?”

media captionJames Miles says his plans to visit his partner in France have been thrown into doubt

Anne, a British citizen living in Paris who did not wish to give her second name, has not seen her family in 18 months, with her parents yet to meet their granddaughter, who was born in Paris last autumn.

The 31-year-old told the BBC she had booked their trip to London for late August on Friday morning – just hours before the announcement was made.

She also suggested most of the Beta variant cases were not found in mainland France.

“How can the federal government encourage non vaccinated folks within the UK to cease sporting masks and begin going clubbing, but oblige totally vaccinated travellers from France to quarantine?” Anne added.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Whilst we’re dedicated to persevering with to open up worldwide journey safely, our absolute precedence is to guard public well being right here within the UK.”

There had been reports the government was considering adding France to the red list for travel.

Only UK or Irish nationals or UK residents are allowed to travel from red list countries and they must then quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days, at a cost of £1,750 for one adult.

It comes just two days after the government announced popular holiday destinations Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Formentera would be moved to the amber list.

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