Up to a million British holidaymakers currently in France are waiting for news on whether they face quarantine restrictions when they return home.
France remains on the list of countries exempt from the 14-day isolation measure but the rate of new coronavirus cases there has surged in the past week.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned on Friday that the UK “will not hesitate” to impose quarantines for more countries in the interests of protecting public health.
On Thursday evening all four UK nations announced that people arriving from Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas, which had been on the “safe” list, would now have to quarantine for two weeks.
People walk through a check in gate to gain entry to the beach in Ostend, Belgium (Photo: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
The measure was imposed in Wales at midnight on Thursday and will come into force in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at 4am on Saturday.
Coronavirus cases in Belgium rose to 29 per 100,000 people this week, prompting the Department for Transport to implement the measure and the Foreign Office to change its travel advice.
On 25 July, the UK imposed a quarantine on arrivals from Spain when the case rate was at 37.1 per 100,000 people.
Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that there were 23.4 cases per 100,000 in France in the past two weeks. On Wednesday, the country recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 infections in more than two months, with 1,695 cases reported in the previous 24 hours.
France has the third-highest death toll in Europe after the UK and Italy.
Travel ban: how the infection rates in quarantine countries compare to the UK
‘Risk of disruption’
Holidaymakers and business travellers currently in France are advised to keep checking the UK government website for updates. A Whitehall source said while France remained on the exempt list, the example of Spain “showed how the situation can change rapidly”.
And the Chancellor told Sky News that “there is always the risk of disruption” to any holiday during the pandemic.
Quarantines reimposed on Spain and Luxembourg remain in place. On Friday, the Foreign Office announced that Brunei and Malaysia have now been classed as safe and have been taken off the quarantine list.
Anyone currently abroad or about to embark on a trip is advised to check the government’s list of travel corridor countries, where there are no quarantines in place for people returning to the UK.
Arrivals from unsafe countries who do not self-isolate face fines of up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or £480 in Scotland.