Rishi Sunak has issued a warning that the UK government will “not hesitate” to impose quarantine restrictions on arrivals from other countries amid concerns that France may be the next destination to be removed from the travel corridor list.
The chancellor said Downing Street constantly kept measures under review, highlighting that people needed to bear in mind there is a risk to travel plans because of the pandemic.
It comes as ministers are said to be closely monitoring the situation across the Channel as Covid-19 cases increase, with Norway already announcing it is reimposing quarantine restrictions on the country.
Removing France from the UK’s travel corridor list of countries, meaning people arriving from the destination would face mandatory two-week quarantine restrictions, would be a huge blow for holidaymakers, with the nation being a popular tourist destination.
Late on Thursday it was announced that travellers arriving in the UK from Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas would have to quarantine for 14 days under new measures after a rise in Covid cases in the locations. Spain and Luxembourg have already been removed from the travel corridor list.
Asked about the quarantine situation and the prospect of bigger tourist destinations, such as France, being next to have restrictions imposed, Sunak told Sky News on Friday: “It’s a tricky situation. What I can say to people is we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans and people need to bear that in mind.
“It’s the right thing though for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis talking with our scientists, our medical advisers, and if we need to take action as you’ve seen overnight we will of course not hesitate to do that and we’re doing that to protect people’s health.”
In France, which has the third-highest Covid death toll in Europe, daily infections reached the highest in more than two months on Wednesday at 1,695.
The UK government imposed quarantine measures on 8 June for international arrivals to stem the threat of imported Covid-19 cases. However, in early July as part of an “air bridges” scheme it released a list of 59 locations holidaymakers could visit without having to quarantine on their return. But within weeks Spain was removed from the list of countries exempt from quarantine measures after a dramatic rise in Covid cases.
The measures affecting arrivals from Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas came into effect in Wales on Friday and will be enforced in England and Scotland from Saturday.
Meanwhile, all four UK nations will add Brunei and Malaysia to their travel corridor lists – meaning arrivals will be exempt from quarantine measures – after a decrease in confirmed coronavirus cases. The changes came into effect on Friday in Wales and will begin from 4am on Tuesday in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.