“Sometimes in France, we were in a difficult health situation, and we understood – even if we regretted it – that some of our neighbors were making difficult decisions about us,” said Beaune. But in this case, he added, “it is a decision which is not based on science and which is discriminatory”.
British authorities have said the presence of the beta variant of the coronavirus in France justified the decision. But Mr Beaune said less than 5% of new cases in France were attributable to this variant and most of them were not in mainland France but in the country’s overseas territories, such as the Réunion and Martinique, where the pandemic has recently worsened, forcing authorities there to declare states of emergency or further closures.
Additionally, Beaune noted, there are far fewer trips to Britain from the French overseas territories than from the mainland.
Nevertheless, the virus has reappeared recently throughout France, even though around half of the population has been fully vaccinated. The average number of daily infections is around 20,000, and hospital admissions are also on the rise.