Coronavirus: France reveals reciprocal quarantine plans for arrivals to the United Kingdom


French police at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in France during the coronavirus pandemic

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AFP / Getty Images

People arriving in France from the United Kingdom will have to isolate themselves for 14 days from June 8, the French government announced.

This comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed quarantine plans for visitors to the UK from the same date.

France has said it will impose reciprocal measures on any European country applying quarantine.

Travelers arriving in France from Spain by air will also be required to quarantine from Monday.

Speaking at Friday’s Downing Street briefing, Patel said travelers to the UK will have to tell the government where they will be quarantined, and face random checks and fines of £ 1,000 in England if they don’t conform.

She said the measure “would reduce the risk of border crossings.”

Truckers, seasonal agricultural workers and coronavirus doctors will be exempt.

This requirement will also not apply to people from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

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Media captionInterior Minister said measures will be reviewed every three weeks

If a person does not have suitable accommodation to go to, they will have to stay in “government-organized facilities” at their own expense, according to border forces chief Paul Lincoln.

The Home Office said the new policy will be in place across the UK, although how it will be applied in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be determined by decentralized administrations.

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said discussions will take place with Scottish police on how the policy will be implemented.

“Don’t close”

Patel said at the briefing that the measures were not the same as completely closing the British border to visitors.

“We are not closing completely. We are not closing our borders, ”she said.

And when asked about the prospect of a vacation abroad this summer, the Minister of the Interior added: “It is absolutely not a question of booking a vacation. We want to avoid a second wave and it’s absolutely vital. ”

The so-called “air bridges” – agreements with countries with low infection rates allowing tourists to travel without quarantine – will not be in place initially, the government said.

The new measure, previously announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will be reviewed every three weeks once introduced.

But the airlines said a quarantine requirement would “effectively kill air travel” – and an airport boss described the plans as a “blunt tool”.

The government currently recommends international travel only when absolutely necessary, and no one should travel if they have symptoms of coronavirus.

Victoria Bacon of ABTA, the travel industry’s trade body, told the BBC that the government must come up with “broader and more forward-looking” strategies for the industry.

“There is a whole range of support, not just financial, that the government can put in place to start helping the sector and we have heard very little about it. We really desperately need help, “she said.

What does the new system involve?

Passengers arriving in the UK will need to complete an online location contact form – providing details of where they will spend their 14 days in self-isolation.

The Interior Ministry said the proposed accommodation will have to meet the necessary requirements, such as a hotel or a private address with friends or family.

There will be a fine of £ 100 for failing to complete the form, and the Border Force will have the power to refuse entry to non-UK citizens who do not comply with the new regulations.

New arrivals will be informed that they can be contacted at any time during quarantine and, in England, can be visited by public health authorities carrying out spot checks.

They will be told to avoid public transportation and drive to their homes “wherever possible”, and not to go out to buy food or other essentials “where they can count on others ”.

In England, a violation of self-isolation would be subject to a fixed fine of £ 1,000, or prosecution and an unlimited fine for persistent offenders.

Why now?

Analysis by Helen Catt, political correspondent

The big question asked about quarantine is: why now?

The government claims it simply would not have made enough difference while the virus spread widely in the UK.

But so far, this has not fully explained why such a comprehensive measure was not introduced much earlier in the epidemic, before the virus took hold.

People returning from Wuhan City and Hubei Province in China were isolated for 14 days from the end of January.

Later, people returning from Italy were asked to isolate themselves.

However, the measure has not been extended to travelers from all countries.

There are also questions about how it will work in practice and what it will mean for the travel industry, which is already suffering huge losses.

The Home Office has released a full list of exemptions from the new requirements.

The list includes road and freight workers, health professionals traveling to fight Covid-19, and seasonal agricultural workers who will isolate themselves from where they work.

Patel said the new measures are aimed at “keeping the transmission rate low and avoiding a devastating second wave”.

“I expect the majority of people to do the right thing and stick to it. But we will take coercive action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others, “she added:

Secretary of State for the Interior Nick Thomas-Symonds said the party supported the new measures “but it is clear that they do not replace a long-term, well-thought-out approach.”

The number of people who died from coronaviruses in the UK reached 36,393, an increase of 351 from Thursday.

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