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

'Absurd, discriminatory': Anger in France over UK's decision to maintain quarantine
Passengers board a Eurostar train at St Pancras. Photo: 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.

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

“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”.

Member comments

  1. 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.

  2. The UK has done the same with Canada while opening right up to the US. Makes zero sense! Time for Boris to go!

  3. The original concept of “clickbait” was when the site owner got paid off Google for each click. I’m French, bored and just relish antagonising because they are so damned easy.

    Time to draw a line under this as a lunch of foie gras washed down with a decent Sauternes followed by sanglier and haricot vert cooked in garlic awaits. No doubt you British will be moaning about the foie gras.

  4. Clickbait in this context – to attract attention by posting something controversial designed to get a reaction.
    Nobody is complaining that they don’t see their relatives so often having moved abroad, we all knew that when we decided to move. We are complaining because the UK Govt. has singled out travellers from France only, among all the EU nations as having to quarantine on arrival, for no good practical or clinical reason whatsoever.
    You are obviously not British and it doesn’t affect you, so why not just stay away and stop antagonising people unnecessarily, then the moaning won’t affect you either!

  5. When one moves to another country you have to expect not to see your relations as often as you would if you lived in the UK, it’s something you have to take into account when one makes the decision to move. No it doesn’t affect me but what does affect me is all the moaning you English do. Just get on with your lives and count yourselves lucky that you still have your health because an awful lot of people don’t.

    Do you actually know what the term “clickbait” means because you obviously don’t in the context you used it.

  6. This obviously doesn’t affect you, or you wouldn’t be on here like the sad clickbait troll you are. Get a life, and preferably somewhere else!

  7. Don’t apply logic to these people, it just messes with their head’s and interferes with their moan.

  8. There were no restrictions Sept 2020 either. You just have to make the most of any windows as and when they open up

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.