50,000 bookings affected as Brittany Ferries reduces UK-France crossings

After 35,000 passengers cancelled or delayed travel plans following the UK's new quarantine restrictions, Brittany Ferries on Wednesday announced a massive scale down of services.

50,000 bookings affected as Brittany Ferries reduces UK-France crossings
Brittany Ferries will drop two of its vessels linking the UK and France following a collapse in bookings in the days after the UK quarantine restrictions on travel from France. Photo: AFP

“We warned over the weekend that schedule changes were likely, as quarantine measures have led to a significant drop in demand for our services,” Christophe Mathieu, director general of Brittany Ferries, said in a press statement.

Around 35,000 passengers cancelled or amended their travel plans in the days following UK's announcement that all travellers entering the country from France would have to quarantine for 14 days.

The French-owned company largely depends on British passengers, who account for about 85 percent about their customers, according to the company.

“Due to this drop, and as bookings for this autumn are falling dramatically, Brittany Ferries has decided to consolidate its crossings,” Mathieu said.

50,000 bookings affected

The Bretagne vessel linking Portsmouth and St Malo in Brittany will stop running on September 7th.

The company has also dropped the Armorique vessel, which serves Plymouth and Roscoff, from August 31st. As of September 10th this route will be run by the Pont-Aven vessel, serving three return trips per week.

The Spain route was also dropped.

The remaining vessels will run on reduced services.

Around 50,000 passengers with existing bookings will be affected by the schedule changes, the company said.

“These extraordinary decisions are regrettable and we apologise in advance to all those whose travel plans will be disrupted,” Mathieu said.

READ ALSO Quarantine, cancellations and insurance – what are your travel rights?

'Sledgehammer blow'

After the UK's announcement, Mathieu said the quarantine dealt a 'sledgehammer blow' to the company, which was already reeling from months of low activity caused by Covid-19 travel restrictions.

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.
The company has asked the French government for aid to get through the economic downturn.

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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).