'Absurd, discriminatory': Anger in France over UK's decision to maintain quarantine

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'Absurd, discriminatory': Anger in France over UK's decision to maintain quarantine
Passengers board a Eurostar train at St Pancras International station in London on December 23, 2020, as services prepare to resume following a 48 hour closure of the French border, due to a new coronavirus strain being discovered in the UK. - French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri also confirmed that air travel, boats and Eurostar trains would "resume service as of tomorrow morning". "French nationals, people living in France and those with a legitimate reason will have to be carrying a negative test," he said. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

Both Britons in France and the French government have expressed anger at the UK's decision to end quarantine for arrivals from most of Europe but maintain it for those travelling from France. They demanded an explanation from London.


Brits living in France took to Twitter to express their anger and incomprehension following Wednesday's announcement that the UK would allow those vaccinated in Europe to skip quarantine. 

"We are UK nationals who are desperate to see our families whom we haven't seen for a very, very long time," the coalition group British in Europe tweeted. "We are UK students trying to get back to uni..."


READ ALSO UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine… but not from France

The Local's columnist John Lichfield criticised the decision to delay re-evaluating France's "amber plus" status until next week, saying, "It seems that the [UK government] cannot walk and chew gum at the same time".

He added that "it seems to be a matter of time" until France is given the same status as other countries, and asked why this could not have coincided with Wednesday's announcement.



"Still waiting for an explanation of why France isn’t included in the new 'double jabbed = no quarantine' rule for travellers from EU & US," said France 24's European Affairs Editor Catherine Nicholson, who pointed out that Covid infection rates are currently lower in France than in the UK and in certain other European countries.

The UK's Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced on Wednesday afternoon that fully vaccinated travellers from European countries can skip the mandatory 10-day quarantine when arriving in England, except for those coming from France.

“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK,” Shapps said on Twitter. 

But in a press release the government added a key line that Shapps had failed to mention on Twitter.

“Separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France," the statement said.

The UK had previously announced on July 16th that even those vaccinated by the NHS would have to quarantine upon returning from France, effectively creating an "amber plus" category and setting France apart from other European countries.

At the time, the government said it had taken the decision because of the "persistent presence of cases in France of the Beta variant".


READ ALSO How widespread in France is the Beta variant of Covid?

Brits in France have also been contacting Shapps directly to express their frustration.

"I am a UK citizen living in France and I am absolutely disgusted by the decision to continue to treat France separately to the rest of Europe regarding quarantine rules," The Local reader John Sharp, who lives in south-west France, wrote in a letter to the transport secretary.

"I am returning in August and have no wish to break the law but, if necessary, I will. I am double jabbed in France (Pfizer), single jabbed in the UK (Astra) and have also had Covid earlier this year. I simply do not recognise either the need to quarantine or for the amber plus status thrust upon France."

There has also been anger on the French side with government ministers expressing anger and dismay at London's decision.

France's Secretary of State for European affairs, Clément Beaune, said the treatment of fully-vaccinated people living in France was "excessive, incomprehensible and discriminatory".

 "This decision is discriminatory towards French people," said Beaune.

"It is excessive and makes no sense in terms of health policy," he told the LCI TV channel, adding that "it has no foundation in science".

Alexandre Holroyd, the French MP for Northern Europe, called the decision "absurd". "Quarantine for the fully vaccinated from Lille but not Brussels, Paris but not Miami, Annecy but not Geneva, Montpellier but not Barcelona." In a later tweet in French, Holroyd likened the policy to "Kafka on holiday with Godot".

The UK's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the government's decision to keep quarantine for travellers from France due to the concerns about the Beta variant of Covid, which is believed to be more render AstraZeneca vaccines more ineffective.

Cases of the Beta variant in mainland France are now below 2 percent, but they are more prevalent on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

“It’s not the distance that matters, it’s the ease of travel between different component parts of any individual country," he said.

However travel between Reunion and France is heavily restricted. Passengers either need to be vaccinated or if they are not, they need to provide a negative test and can only travel if they have a compelling reason.

Raab did say however that the UK government wanted “to get France up the traffic light system as quickly as possible”.



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h_macdonald 2021/07/30 09:42
Remember when Johnson allowed flights from India to continue for two weeks before they were prevented from flying into the UK thus bringing the Delta virus into the country. All because he wanted a trade deal with India, didn't care much about UK citizens then did he.
hans_603bf27096d6e 2021/07/29 19:27
The UK has done the same with Canada while opening right up to the US. Makes zero sense! Time for Boris to go!
ericmariner 2021/07/29 18:29
I have not seen my 90 year old Mother in Norfolk since Sept 2019 and just when you think things are improving, we get this piece of complete brainless nonsense. I was reluctant to be vaccinated, but I've done it because I need to travel for work and to visit my family in the UK. There are no scientific grounds whatsoever for France being accepted and the politicians won't even attempt to justify their action. I think they just do these things because they can!
  • stuart.laing 2021/07/29 21:11
    There were no restrictions Sept 2020 either. You just have to make the most of any windows as and when they open up 2021/07/29 17:52
After the announcement yesterday my husband immediately booked his flight to the U.K. to see his dying mother. He woke up at 2am to find that what had been reported in The Times, BBC News and other reliable news outlets, was not a full coverage and they had not reported the fact that France was excluded. He booked Ryan Air! Now we just have to pray that this decision is overturned without delay and he manages to get back to see the gorgeous Molly 💗
execdrive 2021/07/29 16:48
For heaven's stop with the whinging. You're alive, have your health and are mostly retired judging by the time you posted, you should count yourselves fortunate you live in France.
  • ericmariner 2021/07/29 18:31
    I'm not retired, I just happen to live and work in France and I resent your tone. If you haven't got anything pleaseant to say, the best policy is to keep quiet and keep your thoughts to yourself!
h15t0r1an 2021/07/29 12:36
It's not just the 10-day quarantine the UK has left vaccinated people arriving from France with. We're also still penalised with the high cost of the Day 8 test in UK. Other EU has no quarantine and just the Day 2 test. The UK does not seem to understand that France has isolated islands 6,000 miles away in another ocean, that are a part of France, but not part of mainland France in Europe, where currently there exists a high rate of beta. I have realised why the UK government won't admit their mistake in continuing to penalise French and British visitors arriving fom France. It's because if the British government admit their mistake in including remote islands 000's of kilometers away im their calculations for covid rates, the British government could also be called to admit their other mistake of including these faraway French islands in their temperature calculations that denied UK citizens in France their allowance for extra costs of fuel in winter which other EU residents who earned their pension in the UK still receive. Autant calculer en incluant les températures dans l'Inde pour le Rouaume-Uni. The British government should have the decency to admit both these mistakes and correct them.
stuart.laing 2021/07/29 10:54
It's just a few days quarantine, not a ban. If it proves to be 'quasi-ineffective' I'm sure they'll change the rules.
  • maryjschiller 2021/07/29 12:57
    Traveling to England to see my daughter and having to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days is prohibitive for me and, I’m guessing, would be for most people. That’s not including the testing costs. This is effectively a ban and should be overturned immediately. It’s discriminatory.
  • hiroaphasic 2021/07/29 12:35
    It’s also £350 extra, which is extortionate, and unbelievably pointless based on their « justification » for this.
  • kimwhatley_6041195ca62cc 2021/07/29 11:26
    A few days quarantine (ten in reality) makes the difference between being able to travel or not for some people.
execdrive 2021/07/29 10:54
Don't the British do anything else but whinge.
  • robeire 2021/07/29 13:21
    They also bitch and complain...perfect trio of skills really :-D

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