UK warns 160,000 holidaymakers in France not to dash home to avoid quarantine

The UK has warned 160,000 holidaymakers not to stampede to the French border to avoid having to go into quarantine.

Thousands of Brits will need to isolate for 14 days when they return home – or face a £1,000 fine – after the government added France to the list of countries with a coronavirus spike.

However, the quarantine order on France, France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba only comes into force at 4am tomorrow.

That means anyone who returns before then will not need to quarantine by law.

The government today refused to give holidaymakers any support if they can’t work due to quarantine – meaning many will be contemplating a rush to the border.

But Eurotunnel boss John Keefe last night warned “we’re already pretty much fully booked”.

People enjoy a warm and sunny day at the leisure centre in Cergy-Pontoise, north west of Paris

And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged Brits, of whom 160,000 are thought to be on holiday in France, not to mount a sudden exodus.

He told Sky News: “Clearly quite a lot of people may be trying to return immediately.

“The advice from all the travel operators is very clear – to contact them in advance.

“Don’t just turn up because you’ll almost certainly be disappointed.

“And it will just create queues which no one wants to see.”

The decision with just 30 hours’ notice came after days of speculation that France would have quarantine reimposed due to a Covid-19 spike.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged Brits not to mount a sudden exodus

But Mr Shapps today defended the decision, saying he could only act when he had data showing the rolling average infection rate was above 20 people per 100,000.

“There’s a little bit more notice than there was for example in Spain,” he added, “because the rate is just a bit behind where Spain was at the time.”

Mr Shapps insisted the virus “doesn’t play ball” and has been “heading the wrong way”.

But he point blank refused calls to let people forced into quarantine with no notice claim sick pay or other benefits.

Mr Shapps said: “I think a lot of people will have been aware that this was a possibility in France and in some of these other countries.”

Asked directly if people would be compensated for staying at home, he told the BBC: “People this year will have gone away knowing there was a significant risk and because of that people will have gone with their eyes open.”

Asked if it was tough luck for them, he replied bluntly: “A lot of people will have gone knowing there was a significant chance of this happening.”



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