UPDATED Sunday, July 18, 19:58: Two government-supporting UK newspapers have reported that the UK authorities had been actively considering placing France on the so-called red list, which would mean that anyone travelling to the UK from France would have to quarantine in a designated hotel for 10 days at their own expense.
Countries currently on the red list include Brazil and Turkey, and two countries where the Delta variant first flared, India and Pakistan.
The Daily Telegraph reported that discussions about France took place at the same ministerial meeting at which the Balearic Islands were moved from the UK’s green list to the amber list.
However, late on Friday government sources said that instead of a red listing for France, all incoming travellers will need to quarantine – but not in a government-provided hotel – even if they have had two coronavirus jabs.
The UK government justified its decision by saying that there was scientific concern that the Beta variant constitutes a danger to UK infection rates. This mystified the French, who pointed out that the Beta – or South African – variant was only prevalent on Reunion, a part of France 6,000 miles from Europe.
It is understood that PM Boris Johnson has resisted the idea of changing France’s colour because of the complications that would cause to cross-channel trade.
Europe’s infection rates lower than UK’s
EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren pointed out that Europe’s coronavirus case rates are lower than in the UK. “We cannot understand why the Government is going to allow people to go to a nightclub – without a mask or social distancing – and yet is not comfortable with people going to the beaches of Europe, where the infection rates are lower than in the UK,” he told the Daily Mail.
From Monday, July 19, the UK’s so-called Freedom Day, travellers from amber countries will no longer need to self-isolate if they have been fully-vaccinated, but must present a pre-flight negative test result and submit a second one on day two after arrival. Except for those arriving from France.
On Saturday the French put the UK on a list of countries from where arrivals must have a negative PCR or antigen test result less than 24 hours old.
Meanwhile, UK government adviser Chris Whitty has warned of a new UK lockdown if case and death numbers continue their upward surge.
FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson on a visit to troops on June 24. Reuters