Coronavirus: Travellers trying to return from France ahead of quarantine measures face paying hundreds of pounds
Grant Shapps tells Sky News the advice to Britons in the countries affected is “don’t just turn up” in an attempt to get home.
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- 1 Grant Shapps tells Sky News the advice to Britons in the countries affected is “don’t just turn up” in an attempt to get home.
British tourists in countries that have been added to the travel quarantine – including France, Malta and the Netherlands – have been told “don’t just turn up” in a bid to get back home.
Travellers returning from those countries – as well as Monaco, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba – must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in the UK.
The measure, which is likely to spark a mass exodus of Britons desperate to get home, will come into force at 4am on Saturday.
Travellers trying to return from France today to avoid having to quarantine face paying hundreds of pounds.
The cheapest British Airways flight direct from Paris to Heathrow on Friday costs £452 – with the same journey on Saturday costing just £66.
Car-carrying Channel Tunnel trains are now fully booked until Saturday, with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle saying: “Please do not arrive at the terminal unless you have a ticket valid for travel today.”
A Eurostar ticket from Paris to London was £210 on Friday, compared with £165 tomorrow.
There is also limited availability on P&O Ferries, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that Britons in the affected countries should contact travel operators before trying to get back.
“The advice from all the travel operators is very clear: to contact them in advance. Don’t just turn up,” he said.
“Because you’ll almost certainly be disappointed and it will just create queues, which no one wants to see.”
Mr Shapps added that Britons should not be “entirely surprised” that quarantine restrictions have had to be reimposed.
“I think given what’s happened this summer, given what’s already happened in places like Spain and the vast amount of coverage about concerns in France and elsewhere, no one will be entirely surprised.
“But I do sympathise with people. As I say, I’ve been there myself and ended up having to quarantine as a result.”
What does new quarantine rule mean for travellers from France?
Mr Shapps was in Spain when quarantine restrictions were reintroduced for the country, with the minister cutting short his holiday to return home and self-isolate.
The transport secretary 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.
He announced the move just hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would be “absolutely ruthless” in deciding whether to impose the restriction.
Mr Shapps said the UK had “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.”
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.
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”.
Mr Johnson had said government officials would be “looking at the data” in relation to the number of cases in France.
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“We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners,” he said, adding: “We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation.”
Britain has already 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.
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