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New “amber plus” quarantine status for France – what does this mean?


French travelers fully vaccinated by the NHS expected the quarantine to end at 4 a.m. on July 19, in accordance with the relaxation of international travel rules that day.

Instead, self-isolation will continue to be mandatory for arrivals from France and increase costs with an additional PCR test required on the eighth day of quarantine.

These are the key questions and answers.

A reminder of the ‘traffic lights’ system?

Arrivals from high-risk countries on the “red list” must spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine at their own expense. Nations include India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Africa, and all countries in South America.

From “Orange List” locations – which include the vast majority of popular vacation destinations, including France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, mainland Spain and the United States – the requirement is 10 days of self-isolation.

Entry into the UK without quarantine is only allowed in a handful of places on the ‘green list’, including Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta, Madeira and Spain’s Balearic Islands.

When Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced the system on May 12, he said: “Although the number of countries on the green list is initially low, I expect it will increase over time as the situation unfolds. will improve in the world.

Instead, a new category, “Green Watch List”, was introduced between green and amber. And now, “amber plus” has been created for one country: France.

The system is now going from best to worst: green, watchlist green, amber, amber plus, red.

What were travelers waiting for in France?

On July 8, the UK government announced that people who had been fully vaccinated by the NHS would no longer need to self-quarantine upon their return from “Orange List” countries. A large majority of popular nations fall into this category, including France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the United States.

The idea was that starting on “Freedom Day” on July 19, anyone who had been immunized would be considered low risk and able to avoid quarantine – as well as those under the age of 18, who have generally not been vaccinated.

Such a policy is common in Europe and in the world. The arrivals from France, but also from Italy, Spain and Greece, should benefit from this. Bookings to many Orange List destinations have skyrocketed as the prospect of vacations without a quarantine loomed for tens of millions of fully stung travelers and their children.

What happened now?

Less than 60 hours before international travel became easier for vaccinated British travelers, the government announced that France would be excluded from the program.

Fears over the “beta variant” of the coronavirus have led ministers to create a new category for inbound travelers: indeed, “amber plus”.

Unlike the usual orange list, from 4 a.m. on Monday, arrivals from France must quarantine themselves in their own accommodation for 10 days and perform two PCR tests, regardless of their vaccination status.

France is just behind Spain in terms of British visits and is home to hundreds of thousands of British expats and homeowners. Hundreds of thousands of travelers who were counting on a return from France without quarantine have seen their hopes dashed.

Why was France not included on the red list?

It was an alternative being considered by ministers, requiring hotel quarantine of all arrivals. But it is believed that the “managed quarantine” system would not have been able to cope with the number of arriving travelers.

Will there be an almighty rush home?

No, because indeed for travelers from France, the rules simply remain as they are – there is no deadline to beat.

Anyone traveling on weekends from France to a neighboring country like Belgium, Italy or Spain will not benefit. The test is: have you been to France during the last 10 days? If so, you must self-isolate for 10 days – although travelers arriving in England can pay for an additional test on the fifth day and leave quarantine if it turns out negative.

Is there a way to avoid quarantine?

You can travel from France to a low risk country like Spain and spend 10 days there to “whitewash” your visit to France.

I have a vacation booked in France. What are my rights ?

Many people made late reservations for the summer holidays in France as it seemed like a safe, quarantine-free place for vaccinated British travelers.

Legally, travel agencies can say that they are still able to offer the vacation as booked; the fact that travelers have to isolate themselves is not their problem.

In practice, airlines, ferry companies and tour operators are likely to offer flexibility with the option to postpone the trip, but stop before refunding in full.

What about travel insurance?

The Foreign Office is not warning against travel to France, which means standard travel insurance policies will still be valid. But insurers are highly unlikely to pay for the additional costs involved – additional testing for lost wages.

Can I avoid quarantine if I cross France without stopping?

Motorists crossing France in transit to the UK from Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany or anywhere else will be considered arriving from France and will be subject to self-isolation when reaching Great Britain. Brittany.

Eurostar rail passengers from Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam to London St Pancras International will not be affected. The train crosses France without stopping.

Change plane in Paris?

Many travelers have booked travel on Air France through Paris CDG. But spending time at Charles de Gaulle Airport on the way home will put you in quarantine. It may be possible to reroute via Amsterdam to Air France’s sister company, KLM.

Will other countries join the amber-plus category?

Almost certainly. The government probably wishes they had thought of the “medium-high risk” classification earlier, because it allows for the continuation of mandatory self-isolation without forcing all arrivals to go into expensive and arduous hotel quarantine, but while limiting the risk. for public health in the United Kingdom.

Data analyst Tim White said it had been “a huge mistake not to have a category between amber and red, or to specify that ‘old amber’ would remain for some.”

He said: “Luxembourg sees that the ‘Brazilian’ variant (gamma) is becoming dominant. We are awaiting new data from neighbors of Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. Both countries are now experiencing an increase in infections, somewhat later than most of their neighbors and from a low base.

“Sequencing data will not be available for at least a week from current infections. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the government advisory committee looked closely at the situation there.

“The Netherlands shares borders with Belgium and Germany. It has experienced one of the strongest growths in Covid-19 that we have ever seen. The Dutch infection rate is now more or less at the same level as that of the UK and continues to rise.

“I have not seen any evidence that Spain or Greece are affected by new or dangerous variants. But the sometimes haphazard way in which this government has acted with regard to travel does not inspire me with confidence.

It is also possible that some of the 60 countries on the red list will be moved to the more less expensive amber category.

What does the travel industry think?

There is a universal fury to the movement. “It’s going to ruin the summer for a lot of people,” said John Keefe of Eurotunnel, who runs the shuttle bus operation for cars between Folkestone and Calais.

“It is disappointing that the government has canceled the option of traveling without quarantine for doubly vaccinated parents and their families so close to school holidays and so soon after confirming that travel to France was safe.”

Willie Walsh, Managing Director of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), said: “The UK does not have a coherent policy on international travel. The government is turning around and making life impossible for those who desperately want to see their friends and family.

“They promised freedom through a successful vaccination program and now they are pulling the rug out from under people at the eleventh hour.

“The UK is asserting itself as an outlier in its muddled approach to travel. This, in turn, destroys its own travel industry and the thousands of jobs that depend on it. “

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