Fully-vaccinated arrivals into England from France must still quarantine, says UK goverment

English residents who visit France will still be required to quarantine on returning home even if they are fully vaccinated, along with UK nationals who are resident in France, the UK government has announced - blaming the beta variant of Covid, despite there being very few cases of it in France.

Fully-vaccinated arrivals into England from France must still quarantine, says UK goverment
Photo: AFP

The end of the compulsory quarantine for vaccinated English residents returning from countries on London’s “amber” list “will not apply to France following the persistent presence of cases in France of the Beta variant of Covid-19 first detected in South Africa, the Department of Health said in a statement on Friday.

This change affects only UK residents planning holidays in France – UK nationals who live abroad still face a quarantine because the UK government refuses to recognise any vaccines that are not administered by the NHS.

The Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, has rapidly become dominant in most parts of France as it did in the UK. It is reported to be responsible for around 70 percent of cases.

However the Beta variant is reported to be responsible for between 5 and 10 percent of France’s average 5,000 daily Covid-19 cases. According to the French government’s app the percentage of Beta cases has even been reducing in recent weeks.

Réunion island, in the Indian Ocean, is the only part of France where the Beta variant is dominant and is responsible for most of the country’s cases – the island is around 9,000km away from mainland France.

The UK is currently averaging around 37,000 daily Covid-19 cases.

From Monday, July 19th, those arriving int the UK from countries on the amber list, no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. But France is the exception to this rule.

READ ALSO: Brits in France furious over UK travel rules for tourists

But “anyone who has been in France in the last ten days will need to quarantine on arrival to England in their own accommodation and will need a Day 2 and Day 8 test, regardless of their vaccination status,” the health ministry said.

Health policy in other UK nations Scotland and Wales is set by their own devolved governments.

“With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in the statement.

Britain is one of the countries hit worst by Covid-19 across Europe, with more than 128,500 deaths.

On Friday, the number of new daily cases hit its highest level since January at over 50,000 – but the figures have not turned Prime Minister Boris Johnson aside from his July 19th deadline to lift restrictions including mask-wearing and social distancing.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

France has recently announced that fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK will not need to show a negative Covid test in addition to proof of vaccination.

The British NHS app is now compatible with the French health passport app and can be used to access ‘health passport’ venues, and France has also agreed to recognise AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine.

On Thursday, British junior health minister Nadhim Zahawi announced that “from the end of the month” UK nationals who had been vaccinated abroad could register their vaccine certificates with their GP and get an NHS certificate.

However, this must be done in person in the UK and applies only to those still registered with a British GP.

He said: “Ultimately, there will be a co-ordination between the World Health Organisation, ourselves, the European regulator, the US regulator and other regulators around the world.

“Because we are working at speed, at the moment it is UK nationals and citizens who have had UK vaccinations who will be able to travel to amber list countries other than France and come back and not quarantine. We want to offer the same reciprocity as the 33 countries that recognise our app, and that will also happen very soon.”

To keep up with the rapidly-changing health rules, head to our Travelling to France section.

Member comments

  1. Tories are just making shit up now – beta variant is on the way out in France, and this was the case for months now.

    1. The “problem” seems to be La Réunion, where Beta is, or is very close be being, the dominant strain. As a result, for France nation-wide, Beta is almost 10% of all cases. Beta has always been a worrisome variant, so it’s easy to imagine seeing that 10% figure and deciding to take precautions. (How much of a risk there actually is, as most of the cases are some 10,000km away and so on (Réunion has additional restrictions), is unclear.)

      But in a reverse-sense, this may be a “good” decision: It will discourage people from the “variant factory” Britain may be about to become from visiting France. Given the high vaccination rates in Britain, there is very considerable concern some of the variants which may evolve there will be be able to evade the vaccines. Delaying the arrival of these (so far hypothetical) vaccine-evading variants might be a good (albeit inadvertent) move.

      Having said that, it’s difficult to support the decision based on the current details; i.e., Yeah, the so-called “UK government” does seem be inventing stuff out of particularly thin air (not clear if it’s the hot air from Minister’s mouths or the smelly stuff the other end?).

  2. “…….ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants.”

    What a scam, when the TEST TO RELEASE is being used as an alternative but comes at a cost.
    Below is from the UK Government website-

    “How the Test to Release scheme works

    If you have been in a country or territory on the amber list in the 10 days before you arrive in England you must quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

    Under the Test to Release scheme you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test on day 5. If the result is negative (and the result of your day 2 test result was negative or inconclusive) you can end your quarantine.

    You cannot take your Test to Release test until you have been in England for 5 full days.

    The scheme is voluntary and applies to those quarantining in England only.

    If you do not want to opt into the Test to Release scheme, you will need to quarantine for 10 days.

    You cannot take part in the scheme if you have been in or through a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England.”

  3. The whole situation is flawed, I recently traveled to Uk paid £165 for day 2 and 8 tests, I also paid £95 for the test to release on day 5 , you have to use a company on the gov. uk site. Tests are posted out to you on your arrival in uk you have to do them and send back on each relevant date of test. The problem with this set up is there is no come back if things go wrong. As of course they did I never received my test for day 5 , I emailed the company as soon as I received tests as day 5 was missing and got a reply on day 12 !! asking me to confirm my test hadn’t been received. I confirmed to them I hadn’t received test I have since had no contact from them and no refund. There terms and conditions says no refund under any circumstances!!! It’s a total farce

  4. Be glad you live in a country with a Government and a population who would never elect a Johnson. And have a directly answerable local Government, isn’t covered in litter and has a protected health service.

    I feel for people who have to travel to England – in every sense – but Covid has given the UK the chance to flex its xenophobic post-brexity muscles making any foreigner unwelcome. Only the british can change it and they vote for the same people every time.

  5. The UK Government published the updated law on this yesterday (Statutory Instrument 865/2021). Paragraph 2A (2) imposes the obligation to quarantine only on people returning to UK from “Metropolitan France”. Metropolitan France does not include the non European French departments such as La Reunion. So we could visit La Reunion via Amber Mauritius and not quarantine but would need to quarantine after a trip to Calais. iIs the problem really the tiny numbers of Beta cases in Metropolitan France or do UK government officials need some geography lessons?

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Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

Authorities in the French Alps said Friday they had closed down two popular mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

In a year marked by drought and heatwaves, rockfalls and gaping crevices have made access to the top of Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain, even more difficult and perilous.

The mayor’s office in the Mont Blanc village of Saint-Gervais, said climbers were in “mortal danger” from rocks and shards coming loose because of dry weather and dropping from a height.

“All day long, we still see climbers going on the mountain range, all the time, as if this was Disneyland or the Parc Asterix,” said Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex, in reference to two popular theme parks near Paris.

Hikers had been advised since last month to stay away because of the danger, but “they just don’t give a damn,” he told AFP.

READ MORE: ‘To pay funeral costs’ – Why Mont Blanc mayor wants to charge climbers

The closure of the two mountain shelters — Gouter with 120 overnight spots and Tete Rousse with 74, as well as a base camp accommodating up to 50 people — was to “show clearly that there is no accommodation available”.

The authorities had warned for weeks that falling rocks were a danger, he said, adding that crossing the Gouter mountain corridor represented “a mortal danger”, he said.

Nevertheless, 79 people stayed at the Gouter shelter Thursday night, he said.

The shelters will remain shut until normal weather conditions return, the mayor said, probably not before early September.

Peillex had warned Wednesday that Saint-Gervais would require a deposit of €15,000 from each hiker, saying the sum represented the average cost of a rescue operation and a funeral.

He was, however, advised that French law offers no basis for such a move.

A lack of snow during the winter has laid bare vast areas of greyish glacier — yellowish where sand dust from the Sahara has accumulated — riven with fractures on the Mont Blanc.

The heat did the rest, causing the fragile snow bridges to melt that make it possible to cross the crevasses, as well as leading to landslides.

Following several heatwaves, France is in the grip of severe drought, blamed by scientists on climate change.

On Friday, 100 municipalities across the country were without drinking water, Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said.

Calling the drought “historic”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called a crisis meeting Friday to seek solutions.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is amplifying extreme weather — including the heatwaves, droughts and floods seen in several parts of the planet in recent weeks — and say these events will become more frequent and more intense.

The international community has agreed that climate change poses an existential threat to human systems and the natural world.