Starting at 4 a.m. on Saturday, anyone entering Britain from France must complete a public health passenger locator form, detailing their trip, contact details and loved ones before going into quarantine for two weeks . Reda and Elodie admitted that their work – in finance and retail – was a concern, but that they were willing to take the risk of traveling to see family in France.
Ghazi, 44, a doctor, and his pregnant fiancee Lorraine, 36, a management consultant, were however devastated. “We are getting married in three weeks and my French family cannot come anymore,” said Lorraine, disheartened by the way their situation had unfolded. The couple had spent a week in Bordeaux with friends and watched the news closely, but found it incredibly expensive and inconvenient to rush.
“Marriage hits us hard, but it’s the inconsistency and lack of clarity from the government on what is going on that is frustrating,” Ghazi said. “A lot of people don’t understand the rules and who will apply them. ”
The two shook their heads when asked if they trusted their fellow vacationers behaving like good citizens. “People are more respectful of social distancing here,” said Lorraine, “but no, I don’t have the faith. We’ll stick to the rules, but I know a lot of people won’t or won’t be able to.
For Angela Langridge, a nanny from Brighton, the week’s vacation in La Rochelle with her 11-year-old son was worth it even if it meant the two-week quarantine would come out of her vacation pay for the following year. “I should start work on Monday but we had already missed our holiday in Spain so we thought we were going to try France,” she said. Worrying about “mental health” over the next fortnight was a problem.“My son is a skateboarder so it’s a great thing to stay locked up for two weeks. We don’t have a garden… but we have Wii Fit [a video console] and friends and family who offer to make food deliveries, ”she said. Neither the mother nor the son were worried about the prospect of having coronavirus because “the risk does not appear to be higher in France than it already is in the United Kingdom”.
A husband and wife returning from Nice, who did not want to give their name, said they would try to play by the rules but were unsure how much it was allowed to go out. An explanation that no outdoor exercise was allowed except in his backyard, and that guests were strictly off limits, did not sit well. “We can’t be locked in one bed like this,” said the woman, “it’s not possible.”
Refusing to accept the risks of traveling during a global pandemic, her husband said he could work from home, but insisted it was “unfair”. Searching for their parking stub to get back to Crawley, they both looked dismayed.
Sisters Flora and Polly Belcher, 15 and 12, were a bit more informed and relaxed about the situation. “It seems a little pointless to quarantine because we were in a villa in such an isolated area of Biarritz, so it sounds like a disappointment, but that’s life and we are living strange times, so it is in some way. predictable sort ”says Flora. Both were disappointed to “lose the last bit of the summer”, but felt the trip was worth it anyway. “We went out to eat about twice, we went to the beach but it was just a cool vacation to get away from it all,” Polly said.
The relief of having temporarily escaped the house seemed to outweigh the reality of the isolation upon their return for most vacationers who spoke to The Observer. But in the case of Kristian Claxton, a 30-year-old Cambridge social worker who arrived in London from Basel on Sunday, the sting was particularly strong.
“We went to Switzerland for two weeks,” he explained, “and the airport from which we return home is technically between 200 and 300 meters on French soil. So we go through Swiss customs, but we still have to be quarantined on our return.
Claxton proposed to his girlfriend while on vacation, so he felt it was still worth it, though it was a ridiculous twist to their engagement. “I understand why [the government are] to do so but our airport was only updated after the deadline passed. EasyJet had no idea. We thought we were fine and now, stupidly, we will be in quarantine. He and his fiancee, who live in Cambridge, said they would adhere strictly to the rules even if the family were keen to celebrate their news. “It’s a big problem,” said Claxton, “there’s a lot more worrying going on, but it’s still frustrating. “