Rush To Book Travel As UK Adds France To Quarantine List

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The UK has added more countries to its quarantine list. Late last night, the Department for Transport (DfT) added France, the Netherlands Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba to the list of destinations requiring a 14-day quarantine on return to the UK, beginning at 04:00 Saturday morning. This has led to a surge in bookings with prices of flights skyrocketing.

A320 air france
Travelers in France are scrambling to get home ahead of the deadline. Photo: Getty Images

More countries added

Despite the UK removing its blanket quarantine requirements in early July, countries have begun to creep back onto the list. The sudden addition of Spain with just a few hours’ notice cause chaos for British sun-seekers, while last week saw Belgium added back onto the list. Now, more European countries, including France, have been added.

According to a statement from the Department for Transport (DfT) sent to Simple Flying, France will be joined by the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba in being removed from the list of approved travel corridors. They said that this is due to an increased risk of COVID-19 in these locations and that people retraining from these destinations will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK.

Ryanair, Load Factor, Refunds
The rule will be unwelcome from carriers attempting to ramp up their services. Photo: Getty Images

Those arriving from 04:00 on Saturday, 15th August, will need to enter quarantine. This timing is a great improvement over the Spain situation when travelers had no notice and therefore no chance to return home ahead of the rule change. 04:00 seems a better time to implement the rule also, as it means people can be sure of whether they will be home in time or not.

When the Spanish rule was brought in, the midnight deadline played out very badly for a number of travelers. A handful of aircraft landed ahead or behind schedule, leaving passengers on the opposite side of the quarantine gateway from where they expected to be. As few flights operate at 04:00, there should be more certainty with this new deadline.

Friday bookings surge

While the advanced notice of the lockdown on French and Dutch arrivals and the new 4am deadline are an improvement over the previous rapid rule changes, it has created a new problem. With 24 hours to get home since the announcement was made last night, travelers have been scrambling to book transport to the UK ahead of the quarantine period starting.

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Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC this morning that there are some 160,000 British holidaymakers in France right now. Many of these people will be rushing to try and arrange transport home, so as not to cause disruption to work or to miss the start of the autumn school term.

According to John Keefe, a director at Getlink, which operates the Channel Tunnel, Friday was already a peak day, and most places had already been sold. He warned travelers not to arrive at the terminal without a prior booking as there would likely not be space.

UK Quarantine Heathrow
The DfT warns that more destinations could be added at short notice. Photo: Getty Images

For air travel, the price of flight tickets has skyrocketed. Simple Flying found flights from French destinations had crept up to well over £500 with some carriers, and even those more reasonable looking fares were showing as sold out when clicking through. This was particularly prevalent with south of France destinations where there are fewer daily flights operational.

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Despite anger among some travelers regarding the sudden quarantine, the message from the UK government is clear: travel if you want, but be prepared to accept a two-week lockdown on your return. In its statement, the DfT said,

People planning to travel overseas should be mindful that unfortunately disruption is possible, in order to protect public health, and the Government is prepared to remove countries from the Travel Corridors list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high. Passengers should therefore carefully consider their ability to self-isolate on return before deciding to travel overseas in the event that advice changes. 

Have you been affected by this latest lockdown? Let us know in the comments.

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