UK updates quarantine list
The UK government has imposed quarantine measures on arrivals from a host of countries, with people entering the country from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Aruba all required to self-isolate for 14 days from 04:00 BST on Saturday.
French prime minister Jean Castex admitted that its number of cases had been going “the wrong way” but warned that “reciprocal measures” would have to be taken.
On Thursday, France reported 2,524 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the highest daily increase since its lockdown was lifted in May.
French secretary of state for European affairs, Clement Beaune, called the decision a matter of “regret” for France.
Meanwhile, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that the rate of infection in all of the affected countries had exceeded 20 in every 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
Shapps told the BBC: "We've worked so hard in this country to get our level of infections down, the last thing we want do is to have people returning and bringing the infection with them. It's to protect everybody.”
The Foreign Office is now advising against all but essential travel to France, while the Department for Transport said that the rate of cases per 100,000 people had gone up in France by 66 per cent since Friday last week.
In the Netherlands, the DfT reported that there was a 52 per cent increase in cases per 100,000 people, while in Malta, it said the figure stood at 105 per cent. In the Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba, the figures were 273 per cent and 1,106 per cent, respectively.
Prime minister Boris Johnson warned that the government would continue to be “absolutely ruthless” in its imposing of quarantine rules upon those entering the UK from abroad.
He said: “We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation. Everybody understands that in a pandemic, you don’t allow our population to be re-infected or the disease to come back in.”
However, the measures have caused large amounts of disruption for British holidaymakers, with around 160,000 UK citizens thought to be in France as of Friday morning.
The Saturday deadline is expected to trigger a rush of tourists looking to return to the UK quickly to avoid having to undergo the quarantine.
John Keefe, director of public affairs at Channel Tunnel operator Getlink, said that Friday was already a “peak return to the UK day” and advised people not to travel to the terminal without an advance booking due to a lack of space.
Elsewhere, Eurostar and flight prices have been bumped up for Friday, with many direct flights from the south of France already sold out for the day.
Airlines UK called the new restrictions “another devastating blow” to the stricken travel industry, while UK ambassador to France, Lord Llewellyn, encouraged people to continue with their holiday plans as long as they then follow quarantine procedures upon returning.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that Labour was supportive of “evidence-based measures” at the UK border, but called for the government to “urgently” provide a support package for the travel industry and to publish the scientific evidence which justified its decisions.
Thomas-Symonds said: "That the government has still not put in place an effective track, trace and isolate system has made matters far worse and made it more likely that we are reliant on the blunt tool of 14-day quarantine."
He also called for the government to publish “details of any work being done to reduce the time needed to isolate through increased testing and other measures”.