New infections in France rose by more than 1,600 in a 24-hour period for a second day – putting the country at levels not seen since late May.
On Thursday, the UK added Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas to its quarantine list, meaning that arrivals from these countries after 4 a.m. on Saturday will have to self-isolate for 14 days. The government also advises against non-essential travel to these destinations.
Sky chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: ‘These will by no means be the last countries to face new quarantine rules for people returning to the UK.
“The countries of concern to the British government and which are being watched very closely are Croatia, Romania, Hong Kong, parts of Germany and, most importantly, France.
“France is the gateway to Europe for many vacationers. Of course, Belgium and France are served by the Eurostar – it will be a blow to them. ”
Thousands of British holidaymakers are currently in France, and countless more are booked to visit in the last weeks of the summer holidays.
Travel consultant Paul Charles told The Times: “It is vital that France reduce its number of cases over the next five days if it is to prevent the government from adding it to its quarantine list. ”
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The southern city of Toulouse joined Nice, Lille and other municipalities close to the Belgian border as part of the widening of the rules around masks.
Rules have now come into force there, making masks mandatory in outdoor markets, flea markets and garage sales, as well as some main streets in the center.
François Chollet, the adviser in charge of the city’s efforts to stop the transmission of the coronavirus, told local media: “These are places for strolling, conviviality, festivity, at a time of year when we are outside. late at night.
“User-friendliness means that the precautions can be a bit loose at times. We are convinced that there is a major risk in these places. “
Paris would also seek to make face masks mandatory in certain outdoor spaces, in order to avoid a new spike in cases.
French officials say infection rates have increased in all age groups. Families who go on vacation together, as well as young people who fail to distance themselves socially, are seen as factors.
Belgium has suffered a fourfold increase in coronavirus infections since mid-July, with the latest figures showing 27.8 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
That’s much higher than the UK’s current 8.4, and is also higher than the 27.4 figure Spain had when the UK reimposed quarantine rules on arrivals last month. from there.
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes last week introduced drastic new social distancing measures in hopes of avoiding a new national lockdown.
She announced a plan to limit contact outside each household to the same five people for a month to limit the spread of the virus.
In Andorra, new cases per week have increased fivefold since mid-July, while in the Bahamas, the weekly rate of cases peaked at 78.6 last week, up from 3.1 in mid-July.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned last month that there were “signs of a second wave” of COVID-19 brewing in Europe.
But the World Health Organization says the talk is unnecessary, one spokesperson insisting: “We are in the first wave. It will be a big wave. “