Quarantine threat sparks surge of Britons racing to get back before deadline

British holidaymakers are racing back from France today to avoid the two-week quarantine that comes

British holidaymakers are racing back from France today to avoid the two-week quarantine that comes into effect at 4am on Saturday.

They face paying hundreds of pounds to make a quick exit from the country with the cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London going for £210 this morning.

The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services on Friday morning was £260, with the operator warning those without valid bookings not to travel to the terminal. All trains after midday are fully booked. Telegraph Travel has learned of one-way flights from the south of France to the UK as high as £800

Among nearly half a million Britons holidaying in France was Kate Bussmann. “We decided to move our Eurotunnel booking forward to Thursday evening. It was a not-cheap gamble – it cost £99 to change – but we have no regrets at abandoning our holiday early,” she says. 

Naomi McKee also decided to cut her family’s holiday short: “I’ve changed our channel crossing booked for Sunday [to today]. The timing of the quarantine announcement at 10pm BST and 11pm French time, seems pretty harsh. The dash for the UK is on.”

The Prime Minister decided to strip France from the “green list” after it reported a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. France has said it will bring in reciprocal measures.

Follow the latest news below

11:18 AM

What are your rights under changes to FCO advice?

Emma Coulthurst, from holiday price comparison site TravelSupermarket, lays out some key advice for consumers.

  • Now that the FCO advice has changed to essential travel only for these countries (France, Malta, Netherlands), if a flight or train (e.g. Eurostar) or ferry is cancelled as a result, you are legally entitled under EU 261 regs to your money back within 7 days. However, your flight or train may still go ahead despite the FCO rule change. Transport providers are allowed to keep operating for people who still want to travel. You will need to look to change your journey to a different future date, when you can hope that the rules will have changed.

  • Package holidays provide much greater consumer protection than booking your holiday elements separately:  Consumers with package holidays booked to any of the destinations (most likely to be to Malta rather than France or the Netherlands) should expect to hear from their travel provider and the options will be to rebook to a different date (ask about incentives to do that) or you are entitled to cancel your package under the Package Travel Regulations and get your money back. 

  • For anyone with a train or plane ticket or ferry ticket to one of these countries, most travel providers are being flexible this summer and offering no change fees, if your plans need to change. However, the no change fees tend to ONLY apply UP TO a certain date before departure. Many providers require you to pay change fees closer to the date of departure. Eurostar requires changes without fees up to a fortnight before, as do easyJet. It is one week before with Ryanair. 

11:00 AM

Comment: My French holiday is in tatters thanks to an outrageous, illogical, sweeping knee-jerk decision

It is sheer insanity to force 400,000 British holidaymakers to choose between cutting their holiday short with a lemming-like last-minute flight across the Channel or enduring yet more time stuck at a home you’re already sick of the sight of, writes Sasha Slater.

Aveyron is rife with the kind of French idylls we all need right now - iStock
Aveyron is rife with the kind of French idylls we all need right now – iStock

My Scottish grandmother and Polish-Jewish grandfather fled the continent in 1939. They’d been living in Paris and ran for the border, getting the last boat out of Belgium before the Nazis arrived. I’m not saying this is the same. But it is a heavy-handed, illogical, sweeping and outrageous way to treat your citizens. Forcing us all to make hurried, panicky, expensive and stressful choices without knowing their repercussions.

At this moment, I’m supposed to be on a Eurotunnel train to Calais with my husband and daughter in the car. My brother-in-law, two teenage nieces and large rescue greyhound, were supposed to be joining us en route. We were going to drive down to the Loire and stay the night in a cheap and cheerful hotel in Chartres.

Read the full story.

10:52 AM

Holiday quarantine: Which country will be next?

The Government has thrown holiday plans into chaos by removing France from its list of quarantine-free destinations to which Britons can visit without self-isolating when they get home.

Malta, the Netherlands, Monaco, Aruba and Turks & Caicos have also been added, effective from 4am on Saturday August 15.

So the question is, could your holiday destination be affected? Oliver Smith has taken a look at the most popular European countries that are currently on the UK quarantine-free list – including Greece, Italy and Turkey – and crunch how cases are on the rise. 

Read the full story.

10:41 AM

Thunderstorms could affect last-minute flights

Thunderstorms and flash floods are expected in parts of the country this weekend following the heatwave.

The Met Office has issued yellow thunderstorm warnings for much of England and Wales. 

This could potentially affect Britons booked on last-minute flights to Europe and those rushing back from France. Holidaymakers returning to Edinburgh yesterday were diverted to Glasgow as a result of thunderstorms.

10:28 AM

Watch: ‘I’m really upset’ – Tourists head back to UK after France added to quarantine list

10:13 AM

Notting Hill Carnival will be virtual this year

Held at the end of August each year, the carnival attracts more than a million visitors and is seen a symbol of interracial tolerance which dates back to the 1960s and celebrates the Afro-Caribbean community.

However this year there will be no crowded streets as the physical parade was cancelled earlier this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead, organisers have spent a month filming acts to be broadcast online between August 29 and 31, hoping to keep the spirit of the carnival alive and bring it to a wider audience.

“First I was very sad that it wouldn’t be on the streets – I still am – but I’m very excited about the possibilities of this year taking Carnival into unique places,” said the carnival’s executive director Matthew Phillip.

10:01 AM

At a glance: the Netherlands’ rising infection rates

Coronavirus Netherlands Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Netherlands Spotlight Chart – Cases default

09:45 AM

Netherlands joins France in retaliating to UK quarantine restrictions

The Netherlands told its citizens not to travel to Britain or face two weeks’ isolation on their return after the UK put country on its coronavirus red list last night, reports James Crisp.

A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “This means that Great Britain will receive a code orange as travel advice, because the Dutch have to be quarantined there.” 

Schiphol airport - Getty
Schiphol airport – Getty

The Dutch code orange means holiday travel to the UK is not recommended and anyone returning must quarantine for two weeks. France last night said it would impose quarantine restrictions on travellers returning from the UK.

That means any British tourist visiting the two countries would face a month in isolation, two weeks on arrival and another fortnight on their return. 

Read the full story.

09:40 AM

Blanket fortnight quarantine isn’t the solution, says GP

The 14-day quarantine should be replaced with testing and a shorter self-isolation period, according to Dr Anshumen Bhagat, an NHS GP and founder of on demand GP service, GPDQ: 

Whilst a number of commentators suggest airport testing should be implemented to negate this blanket quarantine, this is frankly not operational as without a sufficient incubation period, this testing just does not work and on most occasions, will be too soon to show anything providing unreliable results.

A blanket fortnight quarantine isn’t the solution, though; there is a balance to be had. Instead of testing those who have travelled immediately, quarantine should still be imposed, but to a far lesser extent. This quarantine would only need to be between four and eight days, at which point those travelled – and those who they live with, if they haven’t travelled – should be tested for the virus. This allows for the incubation period to be met and will mean that infection will be shown. It will also mean that, after this shortened period, those who have travelled can make informed decisions.

09:28 AM

New Zealand virus outbreak spreads beyond Auckland

New Zealand’s resurgent outbreak has spread beyond Auckland, health officials said today.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said there were 12 more cases of community transmission, and one probable, following the shock re-emergence of the virus in Auckland this week.

He said two of the infections were found in the North Island town of Tokoroa, around 130 miles south of Auckland.

It has resulted in around 30 people from Tokoroa who were in close contact with the infected pair being taken into quarantine and tested. The country recorded its first four cases in 102 days on Tuesday.

09:17 AM

How to secure travel insurance for trips to France

Telegraph Travel writer Jane Knight offers a tip for those who plan to go ahead with a holiday to France.

Campbell Irvine is among the providers listed in our guide to securing insurance if you choose to ignore foreign office advice. Others include: 

  •  Travel and General

  •  Wild Frontiers

  •  Battleface

Read full story.

09:11 AM

British travellers question timing of quarantine announcement

Naomi McKee is on holiday in France with her family, she told Telegraph Travel last night: 

We will be okay I think/ hope as I’ve changed our channel crossing (booked for Sunday) to tomorrow. The timing of the quarantine announcement at 10pm BST/11pm French time, seems pretty harsh. The dash for the UK is on.

She will be joining tens of thousands of Britons cutting short their trips to France in an effort to avoid a two-week quarantine.

08:58 AM

Travel insurance stands for holidaymakers already in France 

Securing insurance for travel to destinations to which the Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel is difficult, if not impossible. 

But for those who had travelled to the six countries struck from the ‘safe’ list before yesterday’s update, a travel insurance expert offer advice: 

Antony Martin, managing director at Insurefor.com, says:

“Unless advised by their travel provider (they bring the flight forward for example), [Britons] can continue on their holiday as normal with Insurefor.com’s COVID-protection travel insurance cover in place. This includes cover if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need medical assistance, if the hotel they have already checked into is closed due to local lockdown or COVID issues if other guests tested positive.”

08:40 AM

Latest quarantine decision will ‘further damage consumer confidence,’ say travel agents

The Advantage Travel Partnership, the largest consortium of travel agents in the UK, says the latest quarantine news will further damage consumer confidence. It adds that Malta is particularly worrying for its industry as the destination is more likely to be booked through an agent.

Kelly Cookes, director of leisure at The Advantage Travel Partnership, said:

To have France be removed from the Government’s safe list of travel corridors is seriously worrying for the travel industry and the economy in general given that there are so many British visitors there right now.  However for the travel agent community the removal of Malta is even more worrying as it’s a destination  more likely to be booked by an agent as a package holiday.  We are working hard with our partners, suppliers and fellow industry leaders to encourage consumers to have the confidence to book a holiday but this latest news will further damage consumer confidence. 

It’s clear that these uncertain times are here to stay so flexibility is key – consumers must have more flexibility to be able to change the date of their booking and the destination should their holiday be affected by COVID-19.

Our 48-Hours’ Flexi Pledge  campaign is asking the industry to increase fee free flexibility and urge the Government to give us more notice so travel agents can change bookings for customers and ensure they still have a holiday and money still flows through the system. There are still many destinations on the ‘safe’ list. I’d urge anyone wanting a summer break to contact their local travel agent who will be able to help them every step of the way.

08:32 AM

Booked flights to France? Here’s the situation for EasyJet customers

A spokesperson for the airline said:

easyJet notes the Government’s decision to impose a quarantine requirement for those travelling from France, Malta and the Netherlands. 

We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days. Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking.

Should any flights be cancelled for later in August customers will be notified and informed of their options which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund via a webform on our dedicated Covid Help Hub at easyJet.com.

08:25 AM

Skyscanner: 24 per cent of summer bookings for last-minute trips

Skyscanner, the flight comparison website, has analysed traveller responses to the previous Spain quarantine announcement (on July 25). Its findings include:

  • A rapid change in search behaviour in response to the Spain announcement; destinations without restrictions immediately entered the top searches

  • Last-minute getaways: 24 per cent of bookings from the UK in July and August for economy class, return travel was for trips to departing within 1-7 days of the booking being made*

  • Search data suggests travellers are looking to return to holiday favourites later in the year with Alicante, Tenerife, Malaga and Faro in the top 10 most searched destinations for October 2020. **

*Bookings on Skyscanner.net during the period 11 July – 11 August 2020.  

**Search period – 11 July– 11 August 2020 for economy, return travel in October 2020. 

08:14 AM

Grant Shapps: People ‘knew the risks’ of travelling

Asked whether the Government will provide financial assistance to people who are out of pocket after being quarantined or who must pay more money to travel home early, Grant Shapps said people “knew the risks”.

Holidaymakers went abroad “with their eyes open” and “knowing that there was a significant chance of this happening,” he told BBC Breakfast this morning.

The Transport Secretary’s response suggests the UK Government will not provide any assistance, which is likely to be problematic for people hit with fees of hundreds of pounds.

08:09 AM

Urgent need for plan to protect 221,000 travel  jobs, says ABTA

ABTA, the UK travel trade association for tour operators and travel agents, comments on the quarantine update:

Those currently travelling in these countries do not need to leave at this time, but they are advised to follow the advice of the local public health authority. Customers in destination should contact their travel provider if they have any questions about their return journey and those due to travel imminently should contact their travel provider to discuss their options. 

The Government’s measures to restrict travel will result in livelihoods being lost unless it can step in with tailored support for the travel industry. The announcements relating to Spain, and now France, impact the two biggest destinations for British holidaymakers at the height of the summer season, affecting an industry that has had its trade significantly restricted since the start of this crisis. At this time of recession, a plan is urgently needed to protect the 221,000 jobs the travel industry sustains.

07:56 AM

Britons in France must pay hundreds or face two-week quarantine

Travellers trying to return from France on Friday to avoid the quarantine restrictions face paying hundreds of pounds.

The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is £210, compared with £165 on Saturday.

The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services on Friday morning is £260. All trains after midday are fully booked.

P&O Ferries has limited availability, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200.

See the latest from our coronavirus live blog.

07:53 AM

Fresh quarantine measures ‘devastating blow’ for industry, says Airlines UK

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the trade body for UK airlines, comments on the additions to the UK’s quarantine list:

It’s another devastating blow to the travel industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history. Having the political will to move to a sub-national approach to quarantine, in addition to a testing regime for arriving passengers so that those testing negative can avoid having to self isolate – which other countries like Germany have already implemented – is urgently needed to provide carriers and customers with additional certainty around the ability to operate this autumn and winter, avoiding broad-brush, weekly ‘stop and go’ changes to travel corridors at a national level, which have proven so disruptive to airlines and passengers alike.

07:45 AM

Paris and Marseille declared high-risk ‘red’ zones

Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone region around Marseille, both holiday destinations, have been declared as high risk ‘red’ zones for infection by the French government. This means the government has given the cities power to lockdown, if required.

Both Paris and Marseille have made it mandatory to wear face masks mandatory in busy public areas.

07:39 AM

France’s rising infection rates

France has seen infection rates rise sharply over the last few weeks, leading to its addition to the UK’s quarantine list.

New cases hit a post-lockdown daily high on Thursday as the country’s health ministry reported 2,699 new infections in 24 hours.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart – Cases default

07:32 AM

Amend booking before travel to return to UK early, says Eurotunnel Le Shuttle 

Advice for Britons in France from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the railway shuttle service between France and Kent:

In light of the change to quarantine requirements for UK travellers returning from France, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle would like to advise customers currently in France, and hoping to return early, that they must amend their tickets online at eurotunnel.com, before travelling to the French terminal.

The service is already very busy this weekend and there is no additional capacity. To avoid long queues and severe disruption we strongly advise against turning up at the terminal outside the allocated time. Customers will be unable to board alternative shuttles without a valid booking.

07:25 AM

Can I travel to France? The latest advice as country struck from ‘green list’

Britons returning from France will have to self-isolate on arrival in the UK, from 4am on Saturday. You could still travel to the country, but you would be ignoring Foreign Office advice and you might also face quarantine in France. 

France is expected to reciprocate soon – which means holidays to France of shorter than 14 days are effectively off-limits.

Coronavirus cases hit a post-lockdown daily high on August 13, with the French health ministry reporting 2,699 infections in 24 hours.

Read our full advice on visiting France.

07:15 AM

Shapps: ‘Cut-off’ needed for quarantine measures to be enforced

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said there “has to be a cut-off” in regards to a time period for those being mandated to self-isolate on their return to the UK from abroad.

Mr Shapps was 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 told BBC Breakfast: “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 […] To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity Centre have cleared our approach to this.”

07:11 AM

Burden of quarantine decision ‘disproportionately falls on holidaymakers,’ says Which?

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, comments on the latest quarantine news:

It’s understandable that the government wants to restrict travel to these countries at this time, but the burden of this decision [disproportionately] falls on holidaymakers – thousands of whom are likely to be left significantly out of pocket because their airline will refuse to refund them. 

Unlike tour operators, airlines now routinely ignore FCO travel warnings and refuse refunds because, they argue, the flight is still operating. Some major airlines, like Ryanair, won’t even allow customers to rebook without charging a hefty fee.   

The government wants us to act responsibly and not travel to countries with an FCO warning, but it needs to make it clear to airlines that they too need to act responsibly and not ignore government travel advice in an effort to pocket customer cash.

07:05 AM

France will reciprocate UK’s quarantine, says minister 

The UK’s move to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France will lead to a reciprocal measure, French junior minister for European affairs Clément Beaune tweeted late on Thursday.

“A British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity, hoping that things will return to normal as soon as possible,” he tweeted.

06:59 AM

UK quarantine system ‘creates confusion and anxiety,’ says travel boss

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency and former spokesperson for Quash Quarantine campaign group (currently on pause), offers his reaction to the addition of six more countries to the travel “red list”.

He told Telegraph Travel:

The 14-day system of quarantine has to be changed – it creates confusion and anxiety among consumers; it’s hurting the travel sector with lower demand; and it says Britain is closed to the world, just ahead of Brexit.

Why aren’t we investing more in testing and testing again? If we’re to learn to live with coronavirus then the government has to invest in alternatives to blunt quarantine measures which damage economic recovery.

06:54 AM

What happened yesterday?

The news came last night that six countries would be struck from the UK’s quarantine-free list, including France, the Netherlands and Malta. 

Other key headlines from yesterday: 

  • Wizz Air offers more services as Britons continue flying to Spain

  • The world’s biggest tour operator announces $1.3 billion loss

  • Algarve fights back against UK travel restrictions with ‘Covid-safe’ television ad campaign

  • Jersey announces it will quarantine French tourists for at least five days

  • Thailand’s elephant sanctuaries face crisis without tourists

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