Hundreds of thousands of British tourists today face a desperate problem getting home after France was put on the UK's quarantine list. The prices for flights, trains and ferries rose after the announcement.
The quarantine will close tomorrow at 4 a.m. – and with an estimated 500,000 UK vacationers in France, a weekend of chaos threatens if they try to get home and not be isolated for 14 days.
Travelers attempting to return from France on Friday to circumvent quarantine restrictions will have to pay hundreds of pounds.
Fares for flights from Paris to London are now more than six times higher than normal. The cheapest British Airways tickets sell for £ 452.
The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London costs £ 210, compared to £ 165 on Saturday, an increase of almost 30 percent.
The cost of traveling on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle through the Channel Tunnel on Friday morning is £ 260.
All trains after noon are fully booked.
P&O Ferries has limited availability, but a person traveling from Calais to Dover by car can purchase a ticket for £ 200.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps insisted that the government took a "hands-on approach" to the new restrictions.
However, the move has been criticized by the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, who said it would lead to "mutual action" across the channel.
Clement Beaune tweeted: "A British decision we regret and which will result in mutual action in the hope of getting back to normal as soon as possible."
Pictured: Passengers arrive at St Pancras International Train Station from Paris today after it was announced that Brits returning from France will have to isolate for 14 days from Saturday
Travelers attempting to return from France on Friday to circumvent quarantine restrictions will have to pay hundreds of pounds
Visitors with protective face masks queued to enter the Louvre Pyramid in Paris yesterday
Pictured: A graph showing the countries from which travelers coming to the UK are currently exempted from the 14-day coronavirus quarantine, as well as the number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in each country. There is growing speculation that France could be removed from the list of excluded countries, but there are a number of other countries with higher or similar numbers
Travelers in the south of France are struggling to return to the UK before the quarantine expires at 4 a.m. on Saturday.
Flight booking website Skyscanner suggested that there are no direct flights from Biarritz to London.
The cheapest option was to take a flight to Paris, another to Belfast and a third flight just before midnight in London Stansted for a total of £ 284.
The cheapest ticket for just two flights is £ 579 on Air France connecting in Paris.
Regardless of the mode of transport, travelers will have to move quickly as many services will be fully booked by Friday afternoon.
FRANCE QUARANTINE Q&A
What are my vacation refund rights?
If you have booked a package tour in France or another quarantined country, your tour operator should cancel the holiday. You can then request a full refund.
Do I get a refund for my flight, ferry or train ticket?
If the airlines keep operating the route there is no right, although they may return money as a gesture of goodwill. Ferry companies and Eurostar may offer refunds, but most companies give customers a voucher that they can rebook at a later date. Eurotunnel says there will be refunds up to 24 hours before departure.
If a hotel or villa remains open and available, there is no legal right to a cancellation or refund, although some booking websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com offer last-minute cancellations on some offers.
Can I apply for flight and accommodation insurance?
These are unlikely to be covered if the policy was purchased after March 10th, when most insurers removed cover for cancellations related to Covid-19.
Can I apply for statutory sick pay in quarantine?
No – There is no automatic entitlement to statutory sick pay unless you meet the required conditions, e.g. B. Viewing Coronavirus Symptoms.
What if you pass a country on the quarantine list?
You don't need to quarantine as long as passengers stay in the car for the entire journey and no one joins them.
Unimpressed passengers in London St. Pancras made their way to the Eurostar service at 10:24 am for Paris, including 60-year-old attorney John Strange of Reading.
He said he would be traveling to the French capital for 10 days and that he would be able to work from home when he returned.
He said, “It is not a disaster for me, but it seems to be a disaster for many people, especially those with young families.
"I am sure many will have to cancel their plans and accept all the pain and costs that come with it."
A traveler who named her as Sonata K, a 39-year-old dentist, was scheduled to go to Paris with her mother for four nights – but canceled her plans after learning of the quarantine measures in St. Pancras on Friday morning.
She said, “It's not worth going out and isolating yourself. With my job, I cannot do the procedures from home.
“We were too late to get the news. We're just going to find out here, but it's better than on the train.
"We want to go to Cardiff now and check the trains, but the weather is changing a little."
She added that for £ 30 they could switch their Eurostar tickets to another day and said a hotel had charged them one night for a late cancellation.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “The UK needs a more sustainable long-term plan for resumption of travel than quarantine roulette.
“Tests could, in certain circumstances, provide an opportunity to safely shorten the quarantine length and protect both the health and prosperity of the nation as we pave the way for a new normal.
"As always, our teams will be available to assist passengers affected by the travel restrictions. However, we urge the government to work with us to explore a solution that could improve safety."
Carriage-carrying channel tunnel trains are fully booked until Saturday.
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle said in a statement: & # 39; Due to the government's recent announcement, our shuttles are now fully booked until tomorrow morning.
& # 39; There is no longer any ticket availability and we do not sell tickets at check-in.
"Please do not arrive at the terminal unless you have a ticket that is valid for today's trip."
Mr Shapps explained the BBC breakfast quarantine decision this morning as follows: "The reality is that with all of the things coronavirus-related there always had to be an interruption and we have seen this consistently, not us, just as rules had to be implemented, and like this, "If we can, why can't we?" it will always be the case.
“We have to give clear instructions and, in this case, clear laws so that people have to be quarantined.
“I just want to emphasize that it is very important that people are quarantined. Anyone returning to the UK, no matter where they come from, whether you are in a country on the travel corridor or in a quarantine country, must fill out a passenger search form at this point.
"That's the law and you may find people calling to check where you are and you will break the law if you have not been quarantined if it was a requirement of the country, that you'd come from. "
Mr Shapps said there is no need for people to be quarantined on their return to the UK from France if they do so before 4am on Saturday.
The Minister of Transport told BBC Breakfast that an estimated 160,000 vacationers are expected to return to the UK from France.
He added: “It is also a practical approach that has allowed all four parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England – to implement the same time at 4am with no flights in the air at least tomorrow.
“But look, I accept your point, you can always argue one way or another. We have to make a decision, and we have to do it on the basis of science and medicine, and we have done that, we have followed the advice and implemented it on that basis. & # 39;
When asked if he would encourage those returning to the UK to self-isolate even if they are outside the official quarantine period, Mr Shapps said, “This is not a legal requirement.
“But what I would tell anyone is to watch out for the signs, everyone knows what we're talking about – the persistent cough, the high temperature, the change in taste or smell, so everyone should watch out for these signs.
“But no, there is no need to quarantine unless you come back after 4am on Saturday and those are the rules.
“I think the truth is, as anyone who watches realizes, there is no perfect way to deal with coronavirus.
“Unless you have a sliding scale that says that if you stay another 24 hours you have to be quarantined for X time, another 36 hours for Y time, you know there clearly has to be a cut. away somewhere. & # 39;
Mr. Shapps added, "To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity Center has clarified our approach in this area."
The channel tunnel operator's boss has warned Getlink that many travelers may not be able to return to the UK – and told them not to show up at terminals without a booking as trains are "already quite booked".
John Keefe, Getlink's public affairs director, told BBC's Newsnight: “We just don't have the space to take in everyone who suddenly wants to come to the coast. So we're telling people to change your online booking and make sure there is enough space before traveling to the terminal. & # 39;
After a week of speculation ministers responding to a worsening coronavirus situation across the channel, ministers ordered travelers returning from the popular destination to be isolated for 14 days.
The move came after Boris Johnson said the UK was "ruthless" when it comes to quarantining travel, even with its "closest and dearest friends".
The Prime Minister spoke on a visit to Northern Ireland this afternoon before anticipating which nations to put on the restricted travel list
The quarantine will come in on Saturday at 4 a.m. – and with an estimated 500,000 British vacationers in France, a weekend of chaos is looming. Pictured: Beachgoers enjoy a hot day on a beach in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France
Mr Keefe said there was "some way to add extra trains outside of rush hour" but potential travelers would need to check online before heading to the terminal.
"The most important thing is that people understand that it will not be easy to come back and that they need to be sensible about this and not get themselves into trouble," he said.
France recorded 2,669 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, up from 2,524 on Wednesday. It's a record number for the nation since emerging from lockdown.
When the regulations were reviewed, the Netherlands, Monaco and Malta were added to the quarantine list – and Portugal remains on that list along with Spain.
The Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba in the Caribbean have also lost their place.
“We have to be absolutely ruthless, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners. I think everyone understands, ”Mr Johnson told reporters when he visited Northern Ireland yesterday.
& # 39; We'll look at the dates a little later in the afternoon – right where France and other countries arrive.
“We cannot even remotely complain about our own situation.
“Everyone understands that in a pandemic, we don't allow our population to become infected again or the disease to recur.
"That is why the quarantine measures are very important and we have to apply them very strictly."
Speculation about the removal of quarantine exemptions has increased as infections rise across much of Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons are either on vacation or planning to travel to France, but more than 2,500 cases were recorded yesterday – a record since the lockdown was eased.
The country appears dangerously close to the scale of 20 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
However, ministers are believed to be ready to stop restrictions if changes are announced, with the situation being closely monitored.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons are either on vacation or planning to travel to France, but more than 2,500 cases were recorded yesterday – a record since the lockdown was eased. In the picture Cergy-Pontoise, northwest of Paris
The quarantine list already includes Spain and Portugal. It is believed that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet approved the adjustments.
Travelers are expected to be notified of changes approximately 30 hours in advance so they can make new arrangements if necessary.
The Netherlands (23.1 per 100,000), Gibraltar (35.6), Monaco (38.2), Malta (46.7), San Marino (53.0), the Faroe Islands (198.5), Turks and Caicos Islands (278.9) and Aruba (547.9) all have higher new cases per 100,000 values than France.
On the list with a slightly lower rate than France are Denmark (15.3 per 100,000), Iceland (14.7), the Czech Republic (14.0), Switzerland (13.3) and Poland (12.7) .
Hundreds of thousands faced a rush to get home from France after being put on the UK's quarantine list last night. Travelers have 30 hours to return to the UK before the quarantine goes into effect. Pictured: Departures at Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport
All of this has now exceeded the Portuguese rate of 12.4 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. Even so, Portugal remains on the list of countries from which all arrivals to the UK, including those returning from vacation, must be quarantined for two weeks.
Downing Street reminded prospective vacationers this week that "there is no risk-free way to travel overseas," and Boris Johnson added that he "would not hesitate" to introduce travel restrictions to other countries.
The latest data on foreign soil coronavirus cases is being analyzed by the government's Joint Biosecurity Center (JCB), which reports to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Brits in France and other countries could be forced to flee home or they could be quarantined on their return to the UK if the government decides to remove more countries from the list.
Although Portugal has had a lower rate of new Covid-19 cases in the past seven days than a number of countries on the government's exception list, travelers entering the UK from Portugal must self-isolate upon arrival in the UK. Pictured: Beach goers crowd at Praia da Duquesa in Cascais, Portugal. on August 9th, 2020 when tourism is slowly returning
UK ministers are believed to be planning new measures for a variety of countries amid an increase in European coronavirus cases
The Netherlands is one of the countries exempted from the UK's quarantine rules but has seen a rate of 23.1 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week – a higher rate than France
On Tuesday, the UK updated its "green list" for travel but did not remove Portugal from the quarantine list, inflicting a blow on the country's economy, which benefits greatly from UK tourism.
The UK government was warned that the cases in Portugal did not fall fast enough to safely put the country on the "green list".
On Monday, France reported the first significant increase in hospital coronavirus patients since the lockdown was lifted, although it fell again on Tuesday before rising two days after the rebound.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex (pictured in a hospital in Montpellier this week) has told citizens to "pull themselves together" amid a renewed spike in coronavirus cases in France
Earlier this week, the French prime minister urged citizens to pull themselves together amid a renewed spike in coronavirus cases.
Jean Castex said the public is becoming careless and has awakened the specter of a second lockdown after rising more than 10,000 cases in the past week.
"If we do not act together, we expose ourselves to the increased risk that the upswing of the epidemic will be difficult to control," said Castex during a visit to an intensive care unit in southern France.
Some parts of France have tightened their mask rules despite the summer heat wave. The police will now step up controls on face coverings – while neighboring Belgium yesterday made masks mandatory in all public spaces, including outdoors.
Travel Managers: This is a devastating blow to the industry
ByTom Payne Transport Correspondent for the Daily Mail
The bombshell decision to re-quarantine France is a "devastating blow" to the crippled UK travel sector, industry leaders said last night.
Airlines and tour operators have suffered colossal losses during the pandemic, due to falling passenger numbers and far-reaching global travel restrictions.
A long-awaited announcement in the travel corridors brought some respite in mid-July – but a steady yet sharp rise in coronavirus cases on the continent has suddenly ended hopes for a revived travel season.
Travel chiefs said last night the decision to re-quarantine France – weeks after Spain, Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas were also removed from the list of "safe" countries – effectively signals the death knell for foreign holidays for the rest of the year.
However, ministers are believed to be ready to stop restrictions if changes are announced, with the situation being closely monitored
It also means misery for millions of Brits with ruined trips, who now face the struggle to seek refunds from airlines that may refuse to give them their money back.
Most vacationers are unlikely to have travel insurance as most policies purchased after March 10 do not provide coverage for Covid 19 related cancellations.
Travel chiefs last night criticized the government's inaction on airport tests – seen by many as a viable alternative to blanket quarantine measures – and criticized ministers' "chaotic approach" to plunging the industry into chaos and uncertainty.
A senior figure in the industry told the Daily Mail, “It has been chaos at every turn. The recent announcement on France marks a turning point and a dark day for our industry. We are in uncharted waters. It's hard to see where we're going. & # 39;
Gloria Guevara, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said the industry's "worst fears" have been fulfilled and an estimated three million jobs in the UK could be lost due to ongoing uncertainty.
Tim Alderslade of Airlines UK trade organization added: & # 39; It is another devastating blow to the travel industry, already hit by the worst crisis in its history.
“It is imperative to have the political will to move to a sub-national quarantine approach, in addition to a test regime for arriving passengers, so that negative tests can avoid self-isolating – which other countries like Germany have already implemented. & # 39;
He said this would "give shippers and customers additional reassurance about the ability to operate this fall and winter".
Karen Dee of the Airport Operators Association said, “Our airports are under pressure that was unimaginable six months ago, and it is important that the government work with industry to establish regional travel corridors in low risk areas and a package of financial resources Action to be agreed Support our airports, which have lost over £ 2 billion since the pandemic began.
"We have consistently asked for assistance, including relieving corporate rates and extending employment subsidies beyond October, and it is long overdue for the government to offer aviation the same level of support that it has given other sectors."
Rory Boland from the consumer group Which? said: & # 39; It is understandable that the government wants to restrict travel to these countries at this point, but the burden of that decision rests disproportionately on the vacationers – thousands of them are likely to be left significantly out of their pockets because of their airline refuses to refund them.
& # 39; Unlike tour operators, airlines now routinely ignore travel warnings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and refuse refunds as they believe the flight is still operational. Some major airlines like Ryanair don't even allow customers to rebook without charging a heavy fee.
"The government wants us to act responsibly and not travel to countries with an FCO warning. However, it must make it clear to airlines that they too must act responsibly and not ignore government travel advice in order to receive customer money."
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