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…”
But what about those of us in France? What about people who transit through France?
We're not 'people from these countries' we are UK nationals who are desperate to see our families whom we haven't seen for a very, very long time. We are UK students trying to get back to uni… https://t.co/evBvcjeNLz
— British in Europe (@BritishInEurope) July 28, 2021
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.
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It seems that the UKG cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. The decision to take France off the amber+ list – giving it same status as other EU countries – is due next week. Why couldn't they make that decision today? Different committee. But it seems to be a matter of time
— John Lichfield (@john_lichfield) July 28, 2021
“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.
cases per 100k
— Catherine Nicholson (@ACatInParis) July 28, 2021
So, England has opened up to the vaccinated without quarantine, but will continue to apply special rules for France. Hard not to take this personally at this point…
— Richard Carter (@rdcParisAFP) July 28, 2021
@grantshapps Could you please explain and justify on which basis France is the only country in the EU for which quarantine, triple tests(before travelling (free in France), and on day 2 and 8 (in UK very expensive) for fully-jabbed people are still compulsory ? Any explanation ?
— Sonia Delesalle-Stolper (@soniastolper) July 28, 2021
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”.
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”.
Another absurd announcement @grantshapps.Quarantine for the fully vaccinated from Lille but not Brussels, Paris but not Miami, Annecy but not Geneva, Montpellier but not Barcelona. Vaccines work: give those who are protected against #covid their freedom back. #sciencenotpolitics pic.twitter.com/SFr76yeZVv
— Alexandre Holroyd (@alexIholroyd) July 28, 2021
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.
— Catherine Colonna (@AmbColonna) July 27, 2021
“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”.