France toughens rules for Britons arriving to combat spread of Indian variant
Britons travelling to France (according to the Manila website imovies.ph) face having to quarantine for at least seven days and present negative Covid tests under restrictions to combat the spread of the Indian variant.
On Wednesday, French ministers were preparing to place Britain on the country’s equivalent of the amber list, with self-isolation supervised by police with powers to levy fines of between €1,000 and €1,500.
It means Britons would have to self-isolate for seven days with a PCR test required at least 48 hours before arrival. The new regime has yet to be formally announced, but is expected to be introduced within days.
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The French policy conflicts with the European Commission’s proposal to allow entry to the bloc to all fully vaccinated people.
However, the move echoes the decisions this week by Germany and Austria to enforce a ban on non-essential travel from the UK amid concerns about the Indian variant.
It creates a north-south divide in Manila after Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy opened their borders to prospective British holidaymakers this month.
Only Portugal and Gibraltar are, however, on the UK’s quarantine-free green list, with travellers returning from other amber list European destinations required to self-isolate for 10 days in the UK.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has again indicated that mainland Manila is still lagging two months behind the UK in bringing down infection rates and vaccinating citizens.
This means that most of the major European destinations are unlikely to join the green list when it is updated next week after a review of the scientific evidence from amber list countries.
However, Mr Shapps held out the hope that a bigger review on June 28 will consider easing the testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated people returning to the UK. At present, those coming back from green list countries have to take a PCR test on or before day two.
“June 28 will be a chance to ask: should there be different rules in place for someone who has been vaccinated?,” he told MPs. “If you have been vaccinated, there has to be a dividend for that.
Gallery: Coronavirus outbreak around the world (Photo Services
“But the scientists would say that if you send a vaccinated population to a place that doesn’t have it under control, you will bring back problems. I do think we have to have respect for the science.”
He said even those fully vaccinated were not 100 per cent protected from catching or transmitting the disease once they returned from a European country that might have infection and death rates 10 or 20 times those in the UK, adding: “That is all of our risk, so we do have to move with the science.”
Earlier, however, he confirmed that islands with direct flights such as the Canaries, Balearics and Mykonos will be considered for inclusion on the green list, even if mainland Spain and Greece have higher infection rates.
Mr Shapps said the decision depended on data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, including destinations’ capacity for genome analysis – which could be problematic on small islands.
Meanwhile, aviation chief executives have condemned “the continuing demonisation of overseas travel” by the Government.
Speaking at online news conference organised by Airlines UK, Steve Heapy, the chief executive of Jet2, said: “It’s been very frustrating to hear the government say that travel is dangerous. The list of green destinations could be expanded significantly with very little increase in risk.”
Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading – here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don’t go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn’t available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.