France has been removed from the UK government’s approved list of safe countries over fears the country could be experiencing a second wave of coronavirus, following a rise in cases.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the news on Thursday (13 August) evening, meaning travellers returning from France will have to self-isolate for two weeks on their return to the UK.
When does the quarantine rule take effect?
The new quarantine rule will come into force from 4am on Saturday 15 August.
The new rule means that any travellers who return to the UK from France after this date will be required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
This rule applies to travellers returning to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why has France been added to the quarantine list?
France has been added to the government’s quarantine list in response to the growing number of cases in the country.
The latest 14-day cumulative figures for France show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, raising concerns about further spread.
In the UK, the latest figures show that there are 18.5 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people by comparison.
Mr Shapps said that France was placed into the quarantine list to help keep infection rates down in the UK.
The move follows the government’s decision to remove Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, from the quarantine list last month after a spike in cases were recorded in the country.
What happens if I’m already in France?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not currently advising holidaymakers who are already in France to leave the country immediately.
Instead, the FCO advises that people follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, and return home as normal.
Travellers can keep up to date with the latest travel advice on the gov.uk website.
What happens if I have a holiday booked?
The FCO is now advising all British nationals against all but essential travel to France, including Corsica, based on the current assessment of coronavirus risks.
Travellers who decide to go ahead with their travel plans after 15 August will be required to self-isolate for two weeks on their return to the UK.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said that travel insurance will remain valid for people who are already in quarantine countries, including France, until they return home.
However, those who travel to countries against FCO advice will “likely” find that their insurance is invalid, the ABI added.
As for employees who will have to go into quarantine, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab previously said that no worker who is required to self-isolate should be penalised by their employer, including by being put on sick pay.
Mr Raab said that if an employee is following the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating, “they can’t have penalties taken against them”.
Is the France quarantine reciprocal?
France is to impose a reciprocal quarantine on arrivals into the country from the UK, in response to its removal from the UK’s quarantine exemption list.
Writing on Twitter, junior minister for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said: “We regret this British decision, which will lead to a reciprocal measure [in France], while hoping for a return to normal as quickly as possible.”
Transport secretary Jean-Baptiste Djebbari added that he had spoken to Mr Shapps about the decision. He tweeted: “France regrets the British decision and will apply reciprocal measures in terms of transport.
“I told my counterpart Grant Shapps of our will to harmonise health protocols in order to ensure a high level of protection on both sides of the Channel.”
France has not yet confirmed its own quarantine plans, but new rules are expected to be introduced imminently.
Have any other countries been added to the quarantine list?
In addition to France, several other countries have been added to the quarantine list due to an increase in coronavirus cases.
The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and the island of Aruba have all been added, with travellers returning from these destinations now required to self-isolate.
Spain, along with the Balearic and Canary Islands, has already seen quarantine restrictions reimposed, as well as Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas.