Travelers coming to England from France will have to quarantine even if they have been fully vaccinated, the U.K. government has announced. France too is imposing tighter restrictions for travelers heading the other way.
“Travellers entering the U.K. from France to England must continue to quarantine for 10 days at home or in other accommodation, even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” the British government said late Friday. The new rule is to enter into force Monday.
The restriction comes amid U.K. fears that the Beta variant of the coronavirus could spread from France. There are concerns in the U.K. that the variant, first identified in South Africa, may evade vaccines.
“We have always been clear that we will not hesitate to take rapid action at our borders to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the gains made by our successful vaccination programme,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.
France, meanwhile, announced tighter restrictions on movement from the U.K. and a number of other countries, demanding non-vaccinated travelers produce negative PCR or antigen COVID tests taken 24 hours before their arrival. The new rule, which comes into force Sunday, also applies to arrivals from Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.
Previously, tests had to be taken 48 hours before arrival for travelers from the U.K. and 72 hours for the other countries.
France will be an exception as England is set to drop quarantine requirements for double-vaccinated people from other countries on the U.K.’s own green and amber lists, but only if the jabs were administered by Britain’s National Health Service.
The measure is designed to make it easier for people who reside in England to leave and return home, but not for tourists or British citizens who reside and have been vaccinated abroad.
Britain’s quarantine decision was condemned as “absolutely ludicrous” by French lawmaker Alexandre Holroyd. “0% science, 100% politics = hundreds of thousands of family holidays ruined at a time when more needed than ever. Vaccines work & quarantine for fully vaccinated is a disastrous message,” Holroyd, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche party, posted on Twitter.
Travelers from France will have to quarantine and take PCR tests on days two and eight after their arrival, with the possibility of paying for an extra test on day five to secure early release.
U.K. ministers were split over the official advice given by the Joint Biosecurity Centre on Wednesday that suggested France be added to the U.K.’s red list, the Guardian reported, adding that they hesitated on because of its potential diplomatic and political consequences.
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