French politicians, the travel industry and prospective holidaymakers are expressing increasing anger at the country’s “amber plus” rating – which obliges all arrivals from France to go into quarantine.
On 16 July the special “traffic light” category was revealed by the UK government. Mandatory quarantine remains in place while fully vaccinated travellers from “regular” amber list countries can avoid self-isolation.
France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, tweeted: “The UK’s quarantine measures for France are excessive and incomprehensible in health terms.”
Earlier the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said France’s amber plus status was decided because of “the prevalence of the so-called Beta variant, in particular in the Réunion bit of France”.
He said the fact that the island is 5,800 miles from Paris was irrelevant.
“It’s not the distance that matters, it’s the ease of travel between different component parts of any individual country,” he told BBC Today.
Yet Réunion island itself remains on the regular amber list. Anyone fully vaccinated seeking to travel from there to the UK without quarantine need only avoid mainland France.
The Independent has asked the Department of Health and Social Care, which instigated the “amber plus” category, about this apparent discrepancy. No response has so far been received.
The Foreign Office warns prospective visitors to the Indian Ocean island: “Travel to Réunion is severely restricted until further notice.”
Meanwhile anger is mounting in the travel industry. A spokesperson for Brittany Ferries said: “It makes you wonder if those in the centre of power have access to an atlas – or a geography GCSE – between them.”
France may be taken off the amber plus lift – of which it is the only member – at the next review of the “traffic light” system next Wednesday or Thursday.
A new testing facility has opened at Eurostar’s St Pancras International rail station – London terminus for trains from Paris.
The Collinson facility offers rapid antigen tests starting at £32 and slower, more expensive PCRs for upwards of £66. It is located on “The Grand Terrace” on the same floor as the champagne bar.