UPDATE: On Wednesday the night the UK government announced it had taken France off its ‘amber-plus’ list for travel therefore relaxing the quarantine rule for full vaccinated arrivals. FULL STORY HERE.
While the UK relaxed the quarantine rules for travellers arriving from most of Europe on Monday France remained an exception.
Travellers from France to the UK, including returning UK residents and even those passing through France from another country on their way to Britain, still face mandatory 10-day quarantine, much to the confusion and anger of pretty much everyone.
But this week things could change.
According to most reports from the UK media the British government is expected to drop its controversial “amber-plus” status for France when it updates its traffic light system for international travel this week.
Those reports have suggested an announcement will be made on Thursday with any change coming into force from Monday August 9th. Although none of this has been confirmed and is all based on sources however government ministers have said they are eager to take France off the “amber-plus” status.
Of course the UK rules that apply depend on when you arrive in the UK so anyone travelling from France before the change comes into force will still be subject to quarantine.
If the relaxation does happen the decision would also open up the possibility of French getaways for British holidaymakers in August – a prospect which is sure to delight the tourist industry here.
Under the current system, anyone entering the UK from France must quarantine at home for 10 days, even if they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They must also take mandatory Covid tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine, or take a test on day 2 and then day 5 and be “released” early.
Analysis of the case numbers and infection rates suggests, however, that France is likely to move on to the government’s “amber” list this week, bringing the country back into line with the 26 other EU Member States, the USA, and EFTA nations Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Switching to the amber list would drop the quarantine requirement for fully-vaccinated travellers entering the UK from France. But it will still require them to return a negative lateral flow result from a test taken no more than three days before departure, and then have a PCR test two days after their arrival in the UK – at their own expense. All children over four will be subject to the day 2 test although they do not need one for travel to the UK.
That is all according to current rules in place for amber list countries, which could be subject to change.
The price of a PCR test in the UK varies from £50 to £250, with many providers offering a range of packages at different prices. A British government list of PCR test providers is available here.
Unvaccinated holidaymakers returning to England from an amber list country must take a test before returning, and then follow the usual quarantine rules.
When current rules were announced at the end of July, the Westminster government said it had taken the decision to separate France from other EU nations because of the “persistent presence of cases in France of the Beta variant” – even though they were in fact less than five percent of all cases, and were falling.
The numbers at the time were skewed by cases of the Beta variant on the island of Réunion, a French département, in the Indian Ocean, which Westminster had lumped in with those of the rest of France.
Ironically, it had not imposed restrictions on travellers entering Britain from Réunion – prompting an outcry from thousands of Britons living in France who were desperate to be reunited with loved ones in the UK for the first time in 18 months.
But as France’s ambassador to the UK Catherine Colonna pointed out cases of Beta variant have been falling in France, largely due to the more contagious Delta variant becoming dominant.
— Catherine Colonna (@AmbColonna) August 2, 2021
Cases of the Delta variant in France have pushed overall Covid cases up in recent weeks forcing the French government to enforce new restrictions locally as well as limit certain venues to those with a French health pass (pass sanitaire).
There had been concerns a new spike in cases could make the UK government think again, but in recent days the rise in Covid infections in France appears to have levelled off and the rate still below that of the UK and Spain.
All eyes now are focussed on the UK.