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France to retaliate over British quarantine measures

They may have been looking forward to summer in the Dordogne or the Cote D’Azur after the rigours of lockdown at home, but it now looks as if British travellers to France will have to spend a good part of any holiday staring at four walls.

France has retaliated in kind after Britain announced a two-week quarantine for all new arrivals to the UK, including the French.

The French government said on Saturday it “regretted” Britain’s decision to introduce a 14-day quarantine for all travellers into the country from June 8 and has now imposed reciprocal measures.

The British decision to impose quarantine measures had already angered the travel industry and the French response will only compound its despair at the prospect of international travel being disrupted further.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced on Friday travellers entering the UK would have to self-isolate for 14 days or they could face a £1,000 fine. 

Passengers will be required to fill out an online contact form providing details of where they will spend their self-isolation.

If a person does not have suitable accommodation they will be required to stay in “facilities arranged by the government” at the person’s own expense.

It was confirmed France would not be exempt from the rules, despite reports earlier this week its citizens may not be forced to self-isolate. 

In response a spokesman for France’s Interior Minister said: “We take note of the British government’s decision and we regret it. France is ready to put in place a reciprocal measure as soon as the system comes into force on the British side.”

Unlike many other countries, Britain has until now carried out few tests and checks on visitors, with quarantine limited only to arrivals from China at the start of the outbreak.

Spain and Italy already have rules that mean international arrivals must self-isolate for two weeks, while Greece currently instructs arrivals to quarantine if they test positive for Covid-19.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in his weekly Saturday televised address that “the entry of foreign tourists will restart in July in a safe manner”.

He added: “We will guarantee that tourists run no risks and will not present any risk to us. There is no opposition between health and business. Spanish tourism will have two new trademarks: environmental sustainability and health security.”

Germany imposed blanket quarantine for arrivals in April, although many regions of the country have since decided to ignore it.

As part of Britain’s quarantine regime, travellers will be asked to fill in a form with their contact information and health officials will perform spot checks to ensure they are complying with the measures. 

Road hauliers and medical officials will be exempt, while the common travel area with Ireland will be unaffected. 

Britain’s quarantine measures will also not apply to people arriving from the island of Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s first minister, Arlene Foster, welcomed the exemption and described it as a “generous move by the UK government”.

She said it was something she hoped “the Republic of Ireland government will also implement as well so that we can make sure people can travel across the British Isles”.

The Irish government said on Friday that arriving into Ireland from overseas would be required to self-isolate for 14 days and must provide the government with their contact details by completing a Public Health Passenger Locator Form. People from Northern Ireland will have to fill out part of the form.

Ms Patel defended the move, stating: “We are not shutting down completely. We are not closing our borders. This is absolutely not about booking holidays. We want to avoid a second wave and that is absolutely vital.”

But the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the quarantine plans were “deeply concerning” and could be avoided with strong safety measures.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said. “This approach will damage international business and investor confidence at a time when it is vital to demonstrate that the UK can open for business safely.”

The airline industry has also been critical, warning they would have a damaging impact on the livelihood of thousands.

Ryanair and easyJet have outlined plans to restart some flights in coming months. But under the quarantine plan, Virgin Atlantic will not restart until August at the earliest.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, described the measures as “unenforceable and unpoliceable”.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, said: “Introducing a quarantine at this stage makes no sense and will mean very limited international aviation at best. It is just about the worst thing government could do if their aim is to restart the economy.”

Source: Telegraph UK

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