Published on Thursday, August 13, 2020

France has been added to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s list advising against non-essential travel and has been taken off the UK’s ‘travel corridor list’, meaning Brits returning from the country must quarantine for 14 days.

The quarantine comes into effect from 4am on  Saturday (not Sunday, as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps mistakenly told Sky News) and applies to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Aruba and Turks & Caicos have also been added to the ‘non-essential travel’ and quarantine lists.

Grant Shapps said: “There has been a 66% increase in the number of positive tests in the last week alone, so unfortunately France is having to be added to the quarantine list and it means that if you are coming back from France then you must self-isolate for 14 days.”

The FCO update says: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to France (including Corsica). This is based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks.

“The FCO is not advising those already travelling in France to leave at this time. You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.

“Contact your travel operator if you have any questions about your return journey.”

The government’s announcement that France and Malta, among others, have been taken off its travel corridor list has already caused concern. France has already said it will reciprocate.

Julia Lo Bue-Said CEO of the Advantage Travel Partnership said: “To have France be removed from the government’s safe list of travel corridors is seriously worrying for the travel industry and the economy in general given that there are so many British visitors there right now. 

“However for the travel agent community, the removal of Malta  is even more worrying as it’s a destination  more likely to be booked by an agent as a package holiday. 

“We are working hard with our partners, suppliers and fellow industry leaders to encourage consumers to have the confidence to book a holiday but this latest news will further damage consumer confidence. 

“It’s clear that these uncertain times are here to stay so flexibility is key – consumers must have more flexibility to be able to change the date of their booking and the destination should their holiday be affected by Covid-19.

“Our 48-Hours’ Flexi Pledge  campaign is asking the industry to increase fee free flexibility and urge the Government to give us more notice so travel agents can change bookings for customers and ensure they still have a holiday and money still flows through the system.”

ABTA warned: “The Government’s measures to restrict travel will result in livelihoods being lost unless it can step in with tailored support for the travel industry.

“The announcements relating to Spain, and now France, impact the two biggest destinations for British holidaymakers at the height of the summer season, affecting an industry that has had its trade significantly restricted since the start of this crisis.

“At this time of recession, a plan is urgently needed to protect the 221,000 jobs the travel industry sustains.”

Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said: “It’s understandable that the government wants to restrict travel to these countries at this time, but the burden of this decision disproportionally falls on holidaymakers – thousands of whom are likely to be left significantly out of pocket because their airline will refuse to refund them.

“Unlike tour operators, airlines now routinely ignore FCO travel warnings and refuse refunds because, they argue, the flight is still operating. Some major airlines, like Ryanair, won’t even allow customers to rebook without charging a hefty fee.  

“The government wants us to act responsibly and not travel to countries with an FCO warning, but it needs to make it clear to airlines that they too need to act responsibly and not ignore government travel advice in an effort to pocket customer cash.”

Meanwhile, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is warning Brits hoping to return to the UK early that there is no additional capacity this weekend and they must amend their tickets online at www.eurotunnel.com, before travelling to the French terminal. 

In a statement, the company said: “The service is already very busy this weekend and there is no additional capacity. To avoid long queues and severe disruption we strongly advise against turning up at the terminal outside the allocated time. Customers will be unable to board alternative shuttles without a valid booking.

“We will continue to run our services as scheduled, as we did throughout the height of the  pandemic; not only for freight but to transport those whose travel is essential and those customers who might be travelling to other European destinations.”

By Lisa James, Deputy Editor (UK)

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