‘Ray of hope’ for UK holidaymakers as travel restrictions threaten trips to France

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Simon Calder claiemd France has quickly become the top holiday destinations for UK holidaymakers who were told last month they could no longer freely travel to Spain without self-isolating upon returning to Britain. But as the Government added Belgium, Andorra and The Bahamas to the coronavirus travel ban list, anxiety around France being banned from all but essential travel is growing. The travel expert, however, said one “ray of hope” for those planning to travel to France is the apparent longer notice the Government will give them. 

He said: “The one ray of hope that I’ve been able to identify is that to England, not to Wales, but to England and also to Scotland, they’ve given us a bit of notice.

“32 hours to get out of Belgium and to come home.

“Given that a lot of people in France are with their cars and therefore are able to drive back, that would give a tiny bit of reassurance.

“But the main problem is that the Government is not remotely interested in having nuance approaches saying don’t go to this city, or that city or that region.

“They just want to say it’s binary. France is either okay or it isn’t.”

The new quarantine measures were announced on Thursday evening for travellers arriving into the UK from Belgium, Andorra and The Bahamas – with Britons advised against all but essential travel to the three countries.

The restrictions – which mean those arriving will have to self-isolate for 14 days – came into force at midnight in Wales, with the same rules applying in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from 4am on Saturday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said rising Covid-19 infection levels in the three countries mean they have been removed from the so-called travel corridors, which meant arrivals were exempt from self-isolating.

Northern Ireland later confirmed the measures would also apply there from the same time on Saturday, while in Wales the restrictions come into force from midnight tonight.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also updated its travel advice to warn against all but essential trips to Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas.

Brunei and Malaysia have been added to the Government’s travel corridor list, following a decrease in confirmed cases of coronavirus, meaning arrivals from these countries no longer need to quarantine.

Figures released on Thursday show Belgium has suffered a consistent increase in cases in recent weeks, rising to 27.8 new cases per 100,000 people.

This towers over the UK’s latest rate of 8.4 per 100,000, and is higher than Spain’s 27.4 level around the time when the UK introduced travel restrictions there.

Belgium’s prime minister, Sophie Wilmes, was last week forced to put a halt to the nation’s Covid-19 exit plan by introducing drastic new social distancing measures in the hope of avoiding a new national lockdown.

Contacts outside every household were limited to the same five people for a month, in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

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The Times reported France could be next to face restrictions due to rising infections in the country.

The French health authority – Sante Publique France – reported cases of COVID-19 are up by a third (33 percent) in the week to August 6, and infection rates are increasing in all age groups, particularly 20 to 30-year-olds.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has told holidaymakers “there is always the risk of disruption” during the pandemic when asked whether France may be the next nation to be added to the quarantine list.

He told Sky News: “It’s a tricky situation.

“What I can say to people is we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans and people need to bear that in mind.

“It’s the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis talking with our scientists, our medical advisers, and if we need to take action as you’ve seen overnight we will of course not hesitate to do that, and we’re doing that to protect people’s health.”

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