The holiday plans of up to 400,000 British tourists are on a knife edge as France’s rising infection rate leaves ministers on the brink of imposing fresh quarantine measures.
At a crunch meeting officials were handed the latest Covid stats which show France’s infection rate has crept up to worrying levels.
And a string of getaway destinations including Malta, Holland and Gibraltar are now likely to be added to a list of nations requiring visitors to quarantine for up to two weeks when they return to the UK.
While cases in France are on the up, HOAR understands it’s not yet reached a point where officials feel the need to pull the air bridges. But there are still fears ministers could insist on quarantine measures by the end of the month.
France’s infection rate over 14 days is 30.3 per 100,000 – lower than the 37 per 100,000 that saw Spain removed from the list of safe nations urgently last month. A Whitehall source indicated that France had done “just enough” to stay off the list for now.
But a travel source said: “The idea of getting people returning from France into quarantine is politically too difficult – that’s why it may stay off for now.
“It would be very unpopular, perhaps more so than Spain, and that maybe that is what is driving Downing Street at the moment.
“There is also a suggestion France would be reciprocal measures, and with the migrant crisis in the Channel another diplomatic row may well be avoided until the end of the summer.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock has previously warned that officials are looking at other countries “all of the time” and that the quarantine list is liable to change quickly.
He previously said of the decision on Spain: “I have absolutely no regrets in acting as fast as we did. It was incredibly important that we made that move so fast.”
But Holland (37.8) is edging closer, while Gibraltar (35.6) Monaco (48.3) Malta (61.5) the Faroe Islands (213.6) Turks and Caicos (327.2) and Aruba (562.5) are all higher.
The UK rate increased to 18.1. Since Spain was booted off the list, its rate has jumped to 93.7.
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