LONDON, UK – Frustrated holidaymakers and travel industry executives turned to the UK government on Saturday after a last-minute change maintained quarantine for residents returning from France to England.
From Monday, the government plans to lift most pandemic restrictions on daily living in England, and fully vaccinated residents will no longer need to self-quarantine after travel to ‘orange list’ destinations in Europe. .
But on Friday night, ministers said the “continued presence” of the beta coronavirus variant in France meant the 10-day quarantine requirement would remain in place for one of Britain’s favorite destinations.
And just as ‘Freedom Day’ begins on Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating.
Javid said he only had mild symptoms. But any of his “close contacts” – including potentially other members of the government – may also need to self-isolate.
Maud Lemoine, a London-based hepatology consultant who is visiting France, said the government was sending “a very confused message” by lifting borders while extending the quarantine in France.
“I’m a doctor so I understand health issues very well, but that doesn’t make sense,” she told AFP.
British government scientists fear that the beta variant, first identified in South Africa, may be more resistant to Covid vaccines, especially the AstraZeneca jab developed in the UK.
Beta has a negligible presence in Britain but accounts for around 11% of positive test samples in France, according to the latest data. In both countries, the Delta variant is much more common.
Easyjet chief Johan Lundgren said the decision “pulled the rug” under people who were already in France or had booked summer vacations there.
“The traffic light system is collapsing, the government inventing it as it goes, causing confusion and uncertainty,” he said.
“It is not backed up by science or transparent data.” The change in quarantine rule initially only applied to England. The decentralized governments of Scotland and Wales later confirmed they were following suit.
– “Threat to the world” –
Gemma Antrobus of the Association of Independent Tour Operators said the travel industry was “shocked” by the development because there had been no prior warning from the government.
“And really, we just had to pick up the pieces and face it and help our customers get through this pretty terrible situation,” she told BBC TV.
Graham McLeod stayed at his vacation home on the Atlantic coast of France with his partner, and they are two of the many who will now have to self-isolate on their return to England despite their full vaccination.
“In terms of the government’s messages, we would say they are inconsistent, irregular, unclear and frankly impractical,” the 63-year-old retiree told the PA news agency.
“We find it hard to understand the sudden desire to introduce a quarantine for returnees from France, and we can’t help but think that it has a lot more to do with politics and a lot less with science,” he said. -he declares.
Many scientists are also concerned that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prioritizing politics in his drive to reopen the economy from Monday, despite an increase in infections caused by the Delta variant.
Legal requirements for wearing a mask, social distancing and working from home will all be lifted in England, and businesses such as nightclubs can reopen.
“It is a threat not only to England but to the whole world,” especially the poorest countries, a group of international scientists said on Friday in a joint statement.
For the first time since January, Britain’s daily number of Covid cases exceeds 50,000, and the government is warning it could double in the coming weeks.
Doctors say it will put a strain on hospitals, although far fewer people are now dying from Covid in Britain.
But the government insists that with two-thirds of the adult population now fully vaccinated, the risk can be managed.
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