France Announces ‘Reciprocal’ Quarantines For British Airport Arrivals


France has announced that it will be imposing “reciprocal” quarantine measures on British arrivals after the UK said that international travellers will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon entering the country in order to prevent a second wave of the Chinese coronavirus.

French ministers said that the quarantine would be set in place from June 8th, the same day in which the UK will begin quarantining airport arrivals.

“We take note of the British government’s decision and we regret it. France is ready to put in place reciprocal measures as soon as the system comes into force on the British side,” a spokesman for the French interior ministry said, according to The Times.

“For travellers arriving from European countries whose authorities have decided, in an uncoordinated fashion, to apply 14-day quarantine measures to travellers entering their territory from European countries, a voluntary 14-day quarantine period will be reciprocally requested,” the French Embassy website announced.

“Travellers arriving from the United Kingdom, whatever their nationality, will be asked to go into a 14-day quarantine period when the British 14-day quarantine measure actually comes into force,” the statement added.

Last week, home secretary Priti Patel announced that those entering the country through the nation’s airports will be required to fill out an online form stating where they plan to spend the 14-day quarantine. People will be subject to random spot checks from health officials to determine if they are abiding by the quarantine and will face a fine of up to £1,000 for failing to comply.

Notable exceptions to the quarantine rules will include the arrival of foreign workers who have been shipped in from Eastern European countries like Romania and Bulgaria to pick vegetables and fruit. Freight industry and haulage workers will also be exempt from the quarantine in order to keep the flow of goods coming into the country.

“As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border,” Ms Patel said.

“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave,” she added.

As opposed to most countries in the world, the British government refused to shut down entry for foreign travellers, allowing an estimated 100,000 unscreened airport arrivals to pour into the country per week, despite a nationwide lockdown being imposed on the British public.

The government has claimed that because of the speed at which the virus was spreading, any restrictions on airport travel would have been ineffective at slowing the spread of the Wuhan virus. However, the decision to impose quarantines starting in June suggests that this was not the case.

The move to introduce quarantines at this stage of the pandemic, instead of the early stages of the outbreak, has been widely criticised by members of the aviation and tourism industries, who fear that it would have dire consequences for the already struggling British economy.

“Introducing a quarantine at this stage makes no sense and will mean very limited international aviation at best. It is just about the worst thing government could do if their aim is to restart the economy,” the chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, said.

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