UK rolls back on French exemption to quarantine after joint Macron and Johnson statement

In another confusing twist on the UK's quarantine plans, the British government on Friday said that people travelling from France would not be exempted - just a week after a statement from both country's leaders said they would be.

UK rolls back on French exemption to quarantine after joint Macron and Johnson statement
Photo: AFP

In an apparent step back from a previous position, an unnamed spokesman for the British Prime Minister on Friday told UK media:

“If you look at what was actually said in the joint statement on Sunday night, it said no quarantine measures apply to France at this stage and the key words in that sentence are 'at this stage.' So there is no exemption agreed with France.

“What we have said is that we will be working together with the French on this issue in the coming weeks.”

The spokesman said a working group would be set up between the two countries to ensure “consultation”.

Boris Johnson said on Sunday that Britain was considering imposing a two-week quarantine on international arrivals into the UK, as part of its measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, something it has resisted so far.

On the same day, Johnson, in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, stated that “no quarantine measures would apply to travellers coming from France at this stage; any measures from one side or the other will be taken in a coordinated and reciprocal way.”

The Elysée Palace has so far not commented on the latest reports from the UK.

France has laid out its own plans to impose a quarantine on people arriving into the country.

On Thursday the French government announced that it would bring in a quarantine for passengers arriving from Spain in a “reciprocal measure” after Spain imposed its own quarantine

But quarantine measures do not so far apply to other countries in Europe, including the U.K.

The British government initially said their quarantine would apply to people arriving only by air, but later said it would also apply to those arriving by ferry or the Channel Tunnel, but British media is reporting that some groups including lorry drivers and essential health workers would be exempt.

The UK has not given a date for the start of its quarantine, but at this stage travel from the UK into France remains highly restricted with only essential travel allowed and everyone needing an international travel certificate.

The French government says that its border restrictions will last until at least June 15th for European travel and “until further notice” for travel from outside Europe.

READ ALSO When will I be able to travel to France again



Member comments

  1. I’ll be disappointed if the French government don’t act in a reciprocal way, particularly with a country with such a cavalier and disjointed approach to COVID as England.

  2. UK communications up to its usual standard – ‘as clear as mud’. I wonder which French expression Macron used after his chat with Johnson.

  3. How will this quarantine for arrivals work out for lorry drivers I wonder…..and pilots, ferry staff and air hostesses? If they all have to quarantine, then there will be precious few goods arriving in the UK …

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French train services cancelled on Wednesday after unions continue strike

Travelling by rail in France is set to remain disrupted on Wednesday, as two major unions decide to extend Tuesday's strike action again pension reforms.

French train services cancelled on Wednesday after unions continue strike

Two major unions representing rail workers announced plans on Tuesday evening to extend their strike action into Wednesday, forcing rail operators to cancel trains.

The unions CGT-Cheminots and SUD-Rail called for more walkouts in protest against the government’s planned pension reform. 

According to France’s national rail service, SNCF, the strike action will lead to a delays and cancellations, with an average of two in three high-speed TGV trains continuing to run according to normal operating schedules. High-speed train operations in the east of the country will operate almost normally.

READ MORE: French protest pension reform again as unions threaten to step up action

As for other regions, two in three TGV trains in the north will run; half of trains in the west will run, and three in five trains in the south east will run.

The budget train operator Ouigo will also be affected, with two out of every three trains running on Wednesday.

The strike will also limit TER regional services to one in every two trains running, according to Franceinfo.

The SNCF website on Tuesday recommended that those who can cancel or postpone trips on Wednesday do so. If you believe your travel plans might be impacted by strike action, you can find more information at the SNCF website here.

As for the Paris region, normal services are expected on the RER A and B on Wednesday. The RER E will run two trains out of three, and half of RER C trains will run. The RER D will only have two in five trains running, and connection between Châtelet-les-Halles and Paris Gare de Lyon will be suspended.

READ MORE: 5 minutes to understand . . . French pension reform

Transilien operations may be disrupted, with the P and U lines running three out of four trains on average. Lines H, J and L will run two trains out of three. Half of the line N trains will run. Line R will run one train out of every five.

Intercité nighttime operations will not run, and daytime ones will see half of trains operational. 

International traffic may be disrupted on Wednesday as well. The Eurostar is expected to operate normally, and Thalys will be slightly disrupted. However, Lyria will run three out of five trains. 

Rail workers will not be the only ones continuing to strike on Wednesday. Oil refinery workers had already announced their intention to continue their 72-hour industrial action into February 8th.

READ MORE: Reader question: Will fuel supplies in France be hit by pension strikes?

You can keep up to date regarding strike action in France here