The new rule becomes active this weekend at 4am Saturday 15. Anyone arriving into the UK from France after that date will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. The government’s travel corridor policy came into force in early June, with the aim of reducing the risk of importing COVID-19 cases into the UK.
Dozens of countries are currently exempt from the rules, since the government deems the risk of COVID-19 imports from such nations to be “sufficiently low”.
Until now, France was exempt from the rule. It is estimated the change could affect hundreds of thousands of travellers.
The government said: “Data from France shows that over the past week (7 to 13 August) there has been a 66% increase in newly reported cases and a 52% increase in weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in COVID-19.”
People took to Twitter to react to the news. One said: “I’ve seen and interacted with fewer people out here in France while on holiday than I do at home/work in Oldham.”
Another said: “Driving to France for a break to avoid the risk of flying and minimising being around others whilst travelling; leaving it ‘til the end of summer to avoid the rush after lockdown; end up missing out for being cautions and not holidaying as normal.”
Others defended the move. One said: “Baffling how people can complain. For a start, you can track daily cases via ECDC website to get a guide of what the trends are; and if you choose to go, in the middle of a pandemic, you’re taking a significant risk!”
The government continued: “The government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary, to contain the virus, including removing countries from the travel corridors list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.
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The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Aruba have all also been removed.
Again, anyone arriving to the UK from any of these countries will have to self-isolate for two weeks after 4am, Saturday 15.
According to the Independent, the government was reluctant to include France in the measures initially, due to the number of travellers it would affect.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday he would have to be “absolutely ruthless” about changing the travel corridor rules when it is deemed necessary.
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.”