France was added to the UK’s quarantine list today in a savage blow to tens of thousands of British holidaymakers.
After a week of speculation ministers acted on a worsening coronavirus situation across the Channel, ministers ordered travellers returning from the popular destination to isolate for 14 days.
The quarantine is set to come in at 4am on Sunday – and with an estimated British 500,000 holidaymakers in France, a weekend of chaos looms.
France recorded 2,669 new cases of coronavirus today, up from 2,524 on Wednesday. It is a record figure for the nation since it came out of lockdown.
The move came after Boris Johnson said the UK would be ‘ruthless’ when it came to travel quarantine even with its ‘closest and dearest friends’.
‘We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners. I think everybody understands that,’ Mr Johnson told reporters as he visited Northern Ireland today.
‘We will be looking at the data a bit later on this afternoon – looking exactly where France and other countries are getting to.
‘We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation. Everybody understands that in a pandemic you don’t allow our population to be reinfected or the disease to come back in.
‘That is why the quarantine measures are very important and we have to apply them in very strict way.’
The review of the rules today saw the Netherlands, Monaco and Malta added to the quarantine list – and Portugal remains on it, along with Spain.
The Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba in the Caribbean have also lost their places.
The Prime Minister spoke as he visited Northern Ireland this afternoon ahead of an expected decision on which nations will be placed on the restricted travel list
Pictured: A graph showing the countries from which travellers arriving in the UK are currently exempt from the 14-day coronavirus quarantine, and the number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in each country. Speculation is mounting that France could be removed from the list of exempt countries, but there a number of others that have higher or similar figures
Speculation has been mounting about quarantine exemptions being scrapped as infections rise across much of Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons are either on holiday in France or planning to go there, but yesterday it recorded more than 2,500 cases – a record since lockdown was eased.
The country appears to be perilously close to the yardstick of 20 cases per 100,000 population in a seven-day period.
But ministers are believed to be prepared to hold off on restrictions when changes are announced today, with the situation kept under close observation.
The quarantine list already includes Spain and Portugal. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not believed to have signed off on the adjustments yet.
Travellers are expected to be given around 30 hours notice of any changes coming into force, so they can make new arrangements if required.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons are either on holiday in France or planning to go there, but yesterday it recorded more than 2,500 cases – a record since lockdown was eased. Pictured, Cergy-Pontoise, north west of Paris
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 (278.9) and Aruba (547.9) all have higher rates of new cases per 100,000 than France.
Those 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).
All the above have now overtaken Portugal’s rate of 12.4 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, but despite this, Portugal remains on the list of countries from which all arrivals to the UK, including those returning from holiday, must quarantine for two weeks.
Downing Street reminded potential holidaymakers this week that ‘there is no risk free way of travelling overseas’ with Boris Johnson adding that he ‘would not hesitate’ to bring in travel restrictions for other countries.
The latest data on coronavirus cases on foreign soil is being analysed by the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JCB), which reports to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Britons in France and other countries could be forced to make a dash home or risk being forced to quarantine on their return to the UK, should the government decide to remove more countries from the list.
Despite Portugal having a lower rate of new Covid-19 cases in the past seven days than a number of countries on the government’s exemption list, travellers entering the UK from Portugal are required to self-isolate on their arrival in the UK. Pictured: Beachgoers crowd Praia da Duquesa, in Cascais, Portugal. on August 09, 2020 as tourism slowly returns
UK Ministers are believed to be planning new measures for a swathe of countries amid a surge in European coronavirus cases
The Netherlands is among the countries exempt from the UK’s quarantine rules, but saw 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 travel ‘green list’, but did not take Portugal off the quarantine list, in a blow to the country’s economy that benefits greatly from tourism from the UK.
The UK Government was warned that cases in Portugal had not fallen fast enough to be able to safely add the country to the ‘green list’.
On Monday, France reported the first significant rise in the number of coronavirus patients in hospital since the lockdown was lifted, although it fell again on Tuesday before rising two days on the bounce.
France’s prime minister Jean Castex (pictured at a hospital in Montpellier this week) has told his citizens to ‘pull themselves together’ amid a fresh surge in coronavirus cases in France
Jean Castex said the public was becoming careless and raised the spectre of a second lockdown after a rise of more than 10,000 cases in the last week.
‘If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,’ Castex said on a visit to an intensive care ward in the South of France.
Some parts of France have tightened their mask rules despite the summer heatwave, with police now set to ramp up checks on face coverings – while neighbouring Belgium has today made masks compulsory in all public spaces including outdoors.