Brittany Ferries pleads for French government help after ‘sledgehammer blow’ of UK quarantine

The boss of Brittany Ferries has pleaded for government help, saying that the UK's latest quarantine restrictions have brought the company to its knees.

Brittany Ferries pleads for French government help after 'sledgehammer blow' of UK quarantine
Photo: AFP

The boss of the French-owned Brittany Ferries says the UK's decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France has dealt a 'sledgehammer blow' to the company.

Managing Director Christophe Mathieu said: “We had already had no passenger activity in April, May, June.

“Over the weekend we had capacity for 5,400 passengers and we ended up carrying 2,300. To give you an idea, last year, for the same weekend, we carried 13,400.

READ ALSO Exemptions and fines – what we know about the UK and French quarantine rules 

“In other words, we were looking at a season around 40 percent down, with the quarantine announcement, the season will end with at least a halving of bookings.

“That is if France, in the coming days, doesn't announce some form of reciprocity either.

“If, in addition, France announces that the British, when they arrive in France, have to quarantine for a fortnight, then we fear that the whole portfolio of reservations will disappear.”

The French government said after the UK announcement that it would impose reciprocal measures, but so far has not announced what they will be. During the last period of quarantine in the UK, the French also imposed a quarantine but it was voluntary with no enforcement and no fines.

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Mathieu told France Info: “We were already down on one knee after the first period of lockdown, which was already extremely difficult. 

“Now, with the quarantine announcement we have no idea on the duration, since today who can say how long this measure will be in place. We fear that, beyond September-October, bookings will be very, very low this winter, at least until spring 2021 unless a vaccine or cure have been found.

“That brings us to our second knee. We are saying that the company is badly affected, that it will not be able to manage on its own.”
He appealed to the French government for tax breaks to help tide the company over.
Brittany Ferries is primarily a passenger transport company, with only around 15 percent of its activities involving freight cargo, unlike P&O and DFDS which have a higher proportion of freight traffic.
During the lockdown Brittany Ferries closed all its passengers services, while P&O ran a skeleton service for passengers.

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Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).