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

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.

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

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”.

Member comments

      1. OK boris, you may have lots of children you either don’t care about or are so distant – that your brain switches off. We brits DO. My wife and i have not seen our kids for 2 years. YES 2 YEARS. We do care – and crave for that first cuddle or embrace. Please do the right thing. Put your dislike for macron aside.

          1. Not at this time, no. Too personal to go into, but the only option currently is for me to go to the UK, and it’s not possible with this quarantine in place.

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

  1. 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.

    1. A few days quarantine (ten in reality) makes the difference between being able to travel or not for some people.

    2. It’s also £350 extra, which is extortionate, and unbelievably pointless based on their « justification » for this.

    3. 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.

      1. All travel restrictions are discriminatory. That’s the point of them. I don’t think you have to quarantine in a hotel though. I’m pretty sure that can be done with friends or family once you get to England.

        1. My daughter lives somewhere that doesn’t allow guests anymore due to Covid. So yes, it would be quarantining in a hotel for me. I’m sure other people are facing this scenario, too.

          1. 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!

          2. 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.

          3. 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!

          4. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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 💗

  5. 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!

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

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

  7. 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.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU


France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test