Boris Johnson said he would be “ruthless” when deciding whether to impose the measure but France says it will reciprocate.
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- 1 Boris Johnson said he would be “ruthless” when deciding whether to impose the measure but France says it will reciprocate.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons have had their holidays left in disarray after France, Malta and the Netherlands were among several countries added to the UK’s quarantine list.
Travellers returning from those countries – as well as Monaco, Turks & Caicos and Aruba – must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in the UK.
The measure, which some fear may spark a mass exodus of Britons desperate to get home, will come into force at 4am on Saturday morning.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision to add France to the list came after the country reported a 66% increase in the number of positive coronavirus tests in the past week.
Mr Shapps announced the move just hours after the prime minister said his government would be “absolutely ruthless” in deciding whether to impose the restriction.
“We’re announcing that there will now be a quarantine brought in for a number of other locations including France, Holland and some others,” Mr Shapps said.
“That’s because we’ve absolutely worked so hard to ensure that we’re keeping our numbers down here, and we can’t afford to reimport those cases from elsewhere.”
He added: “We’ve got to a point with France in particular, and these other countries, where if we didn’t announce it now, we would know that the infection rate was already too high and we were not doing anything about it.
“So we’re announcing it now and it will be operational throughout the United Kingdom from 4am on Saturday morning.”
The French health ministry reported 2,524 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday – the highest since its lockdown restrictions were first imposed.
The UK government’s move has also delivered a blow to France’s hard-pressed tourism industry, which relies heavily on British visitors.
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France has said it will reciprocate, but did not give further details.
French junior minister for European affairs Clément Beaune described the UK move as “a British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity, hoping that things will return to normal as soon as possible.”
New quarantine rule for travellers from France
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle warned Britons in France that the weekend’s services are busy.
They said: “The service is already very busy this weekend and there is no additional capacity.
“To avoid long queues and severe disruption we strongly advise against turning up at the terminal outside the allocated time. Customers will be unable to board alternative shuttles without a valid booking.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier said government officials would be “looking at the data” in relation to the number of cases in France.
Mr Johnson said while on a visit to Northern Ireland: “We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners.
“I think everybody understands that.
“We will be looking at the data a bit later on this afternoon, looking exactly where France and other countries are getting to.
“We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation.”
Britain has also imposed a 14-day quarantine period for arrivals from countries including Spain and Belgium, responding to rising infections and fears of a second wave of the virus, having initially declared them safe for travel.