The mood among the relatively few Britons on holiday in Paris is sour and indignant amid speculation that the government may impose a two-week quarantine on their return, following a rise in coronavirus infections.
“I just can’t believe it,” said John Harrison, 45, from Hertfordshire, outside the Louvre museum. “It will be very frustrating if they do this while we’re here. The way the reports are, it seems the government may do this without any thought about the consequences for people like us. Dominic Cummings [Boris Johnson’s advisor] can do exactly as he likes, but we lesser mortals have to blindly follow rules that frankly don’t seem to be very carefully thought out. I can work from home but my children are due back in school next month and I really don’t want them to be penalised by having to start late.”
Mr Harrison, travelling with his wife and two sons, said it would be too expensive to change their Eurostar tickets to an earlier date. “Anyway, you hear all sorts of rumours about [what] the government’s going to do or not do, so we’re not cutting our holiday short,” he said.
Norway reimposed a quarantine on travellers from France this week and it has been reported that UK government ministers are weighing a similar move, having already removed three countries from the "green list" of safe travel destinations over the weekend.
Emma Baker, 40, from North London, was cycling with her 19-year-old daughter along the banks of the Seine, despite 32 degree heat. “I saw some of the reports about this online this morning,” she said. “Will we go home early? I don’t think so. Look at all this. It’s beautiful here. I don’t think we’re at more risk here than in the UK.”
As of August 6, France had recorded 30,305 coronavirus-related deaths, compared to the UK's 46,364. However, the country is experiencing a new spike in cases, reporting its largest rise in coronavirus infections in more than two months this week, with 1,695 new cases on Wednesday.
The Parker family, from Hertfordshire, who were visiting Notre-Dame cathedral, saw the situation differently. “We’re travelling by car,” said Mrs Parker, who declined to give her full name. “Our Eurotunnel ticket is flexible so we’re going to head home a few days earlier than we’d planned. It doesn’t feel any less safe here than in the UK, but I don’t want to go into quarantine.”
Charlotte, 32, a nurse, said: “I find this quarantine thing incredible. Does the government seriously think I’m at greater risk here than I have been working in a hospital during the crisis. I reckon the whole way this is being handled, with rumours in the papers about what the government’s going to do, is appalling. If you ask me, if they do announce a quarantine, it will be more political than anything else.”