Brits coming back to the UK from France have been given a deadline of 4am on Saturday to return without quarantining.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said if people return before the deadline it won’t be necessary for them to quarantine.
His comments come after the government announced on Thursday night that people returning from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos and Aruba will have to quarantine for 14 days when they get back.
The move comes as France’s infection rates surged, leading to speculation that it would be added to the quarantine list.
But when asked whether those returning to the UK should self-isolate even if they get back before the official deadline, Shapps told BBC Breakfast: “That’s not legally required.”
He added: “But what I would say to everybody is look out for the signs, everyone knows what we’re talking about – the persistent cough, the high temperature, the change in taste or smell, so everyone should look out for those signs.
“But, no, it’s not necessary to quarantine unless you’re coming back after 4am on Saturday and those are the rules.”
Asked why it is the case that those who return to the UK from France before 4am on Saturday will not have to quarantine for 14 days whilst those returning after that time would have to do so, he said: “I think the truth of this is, as everyone watching realises, there’s no perfect way to deal with coronavirus.
“Unless you were going to have a sliding scale that sort of said if you stay another 24 hours the you must quarantine for X amount of time, another 36 hours for Y amount of time, you know, clearly there has to be a cut-off somewhere.”
He added: “To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity centre have cleared our approach to this.”
An estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to be looking to return to the UK from France following the government’s announcement.
Shapps said: “It’s a practical approach as well which has enabled all fours parts of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England – to implement the same time at 4am where there are no flights in the air at least tomorrow.
“But, look, I accept your point, you can always argue one way or the other. We have to make a decision on it and we have to do that based on science and medicine, and that’s what we’ve done, we’ve taken the advice and implemented on that basis.”
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