UK orders travellers from France to quarantine on return home

Late change to Covid rules due to Beta variant concerns

A passenger walks past signage displaying the way to a Covid-19 test centre, in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport in London, on June 3, 2021. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it remains "too early" to say whether all coronavirus restrictions can end on June 21.  Speaking ahead of a G7 health ministers' meeting, he told reporters: "It's too early to say what the decision will be about step four of the road map, which is scheduled to be no earlier than June 21.

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Travellers returning to England from France will have to quarantine at home for 10 days even if they are fully vaccinated, the UK government said on Friday.

From July 19, travellers from amber list countries will no longer have to quarantine following a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

However, authorities in England have decided to retain quarantine restrictions for visitors to France due to an elevated number of cases in France of the Beta variant, first detected in South Africa, the Department of Health said in a statement.

The announcement comes only days before the England so-called Freedom Day, on which almost all Covid restrictions, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, will end.

Scientists have voiced their concerns over the easing due to the country's alarming rate of new coronavirus infections.

Those arriving from countries on the amber list, which includes other popular European holiday destinations like Italy, Portugal and Spain, currently need to quarantine at home for up to 10 days and submit to two tests.

From Monday, they will only need to show proof of vaccination in the UK to their airline, ferry or train operator and take a test on the second day after arrival.

But “anyone who has been in France in the last 10 days will need to quarantine on arrival to England in their own accommodation and will need a Day 2 and Day 8 test, regardless of their vaccination status,” the health ministry said.

Health policy in other UK nations Scotland and Wales is set by their own devolved governments.

“With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants,” UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in the statement.

Britain is one of the countries hit worst by Covid-19 in Europe, with more than 128,500 deaths.

On Friday, the number of new daily cases hit its highest level since January at over 50,000 — but the figures have not turned Prime Minister Boris Johnson aside from his July 19 deadline to lift restrictions.

Updated: July 16, 2021, 9:27 PM