Holidaymakers returning to England from France will still have to self-isolate when they get back even if they are fully vaccinated, the Government announced last night.
This would inevitably also affect people returning to Dover on cross-Channel ferries and those arriving at the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone.
From Monday, UK residents arriving from countries on the Government’s amber list will no longer have to quarantine at home for 10 days if they have had both jabs.
However, ministers have now said this will not apply to France because of the “persistent presence” in the country of the Beta variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa.
The announcement means anyone who has been in France in the last 10 days will need to self-isolate as well as taking a test after two and eight days, regardless of their vaccination status.
This includes fully vaccinated individuals who transit through France from either a green or another amber country, although operators may make specific arrangements in line with public health regulations for transit without quarantine, such as those travelling by train from Belgium.
Existing amber list exemptions for key workers such as hauliers will remain in place.
“We will not hesitate to take rapid action at our borders to stop the spread of Covid-19.” Sajid Javid
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Whilst we are committed to continuing to open up international travel safely, our absolute priority is to protect public health here in the UK.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “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.”
The move is a further blow for the beleaguered travel industry, underlining the uncertainty facing anyone planning to holiday abroad this summer.
t comes just two days after the Spanish holiday islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca were moved from green to amber, meaning anyone over 18 who is not fully vaccinated must quarantine on their return.
Tory MP Henry Smith, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation, said it cast doubt on the traffic light system of green, amber and red list destinations.
“This announcement is a real setback to international travel,” he said.
“We all expected that the traffic light system would provide much-needed certainty yet our current approach has only delivered confusion, which continues to prevent any meaningful recovery for our aviation, travel and tourism sectors.
“Yet again, a last-minute announcement raises significant questions about whether the traffic light system is fit for purpose in its current form and pushes the UK further behind Europe despite our world-leading vaccination programme.
“We cannot afford to continue with this on-again, off-again approach to international travel, which is leaving consumer confidence in tatters, pushing businesses to the brink and will lead to further job losses.”
Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “People will agree or disagree about whether it’s right to impose further restrictions on travel from France, but there’s no excuse for announcing it late on a Friday night, especially when there was already a planned update to government travel rules on Wednesday.
“This will cause chaos for people who have just arrived in France who will now face quarantine on their return or those who are due to travel there imminently. Many will struggle to get a refund or claim on their insurance.”
Mr Shapps said it had always been clear that travel would be “different” this year due to the continuing pandemic.
“We urge everyone thinking about going abroad this summer to check their terms and conditions as well as the travel restrictions abroad before they go.” he said.
Kent Online is contacting cross-Channel operators and the Port of Dover for their comments on the announcement.
Read more: All the latest news from Dover