The UK government will add six new countries to its travel quarantine list, including France and the Netherlands, requiring two weeks of self-isolation for new arrivals while boosting fines for those who flout face mask rules.
The new restrictions were announced on Thursday evening in a tweet from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, warning travelers that they will face a mandatory 14-day quarantine period should they arrive in the UK after 4:00am on Saturday, when the rule change will take effect.
“Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba from our list of coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN,” Shapps said. “If you arrive in the UK after [4:00 am] Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.”
Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN. If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) August 13, 2020
The new guidelines were set out hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government must be “absolutely ruthless” about keeping infections down, “even with our closest and dearest friends and partners.” With France the second most popular holiday locale for British citizens, the move risks stranding thousands of vacationers abroad, but Shapps insisted the move was necessary, stressing that the UK couldn’t “afford to reimport… cases from elsewhere.”
Earlier on Thursday, Johnson also declared that fines for those violating face mask requirements would double from £100 to £200 for repeat offenders, up to a maximum of £3,200, further ratcheting up some of the country’s containment measures, even as the PM said restrictions would be eased elsewhere, allowing for some establishments to reopen beginning on Saturday.
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The decision to mandate quarantines for travelers from France has been a contentious one in Paris, with French officials vowing to respond to any restrictions in kind when the travel list was first unveiled in May. On the heels of Thursday’s announcement, French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune reiterated that position, saying the British decision was regretful and that it would trigger “a measure of reciprocity.”
France recorded nearly 2,700 new coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, amid a steep spike in cases after lifting its most severe lockdown measures earlier this summer.
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