Travellers from France to be exempt from UK quarantine plans

Travellers from France will be exempt from a quarantine to be imposed on overseas arrivals to the UK.

A joint government disclosure came after Boris Johnson confirmed the widely-expected measure designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Travel and aviation sector leaders will be seeking urgent clarification on the quarantine plans after prime minister’s announcement on Sunday.

They have warned that the plan would have a “devastating impact” on airlines and airports already suffering from mass job cuts due to a virtual grounding of flights.

Johnson’s televised announcement was unclear on when the quarantine would start, who precisely it will apply to, how it will be implemented and what government support would be given to counteract its impact on the travel industry.

All he said was: “To prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”

The government clarified this morning that this applies to all types of arrivals – not just at airports.

Johnson is due to answer questions from MPs and the public on Monday while No 10 will publish its 50-page official guidance in Parliament.

Airlines had been briefed that any quarantine period would last for 14 days, and that people might be expected to provide an address when they arrive at the border.

Reaction is expected from Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner International Airlines Group, when he appears before the Transport Select Committee in a virtual session this morning.

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “We all, including government, need to adapt to the new normal, but closing off air travel in this way is not the way to achieve this.

“Ministers are effectively telling people they can no longer travel for the foreseeable future and airlines will respond to that by grounding their operations.”

He added: “That is why they require urgent additional government support to get through this growing crisis.”

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airlines Representatives in the UK (BARUK), said: “The restart and recovery of aviation is an essential component in getting the UK economy moving again.

“Flying can only recommence in any meaningful way once the 14- day self-isolation requirement is superseded by a carefully co-ordinated and internationally harmonised approach, incorporating a series of multi-layered and more effective measures that better target and mitigate risk, and provide the confidence that flying is safe.”

However, it emerged later in a joint statement between the UK and French governments that the new rule would not apply for arrivals from France.

It said: “No quarantine measures would apply to travellers coming from France at this stage; any measures on either side would be taken in a concerted and reciprocal manner.

“A working group between the two governments will be set up to ensure this consultation throughout the coming weeks.”

Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron agreed to work together in taking forward “appropriate border measures,” the statement said.

“This co-operation is particularly necessary for the management of our common border.”


Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.