With the changes to the Amber list going live on Monday, you would think that the UK Government hasn’t stopped fiddling with the list.
Well – they’re fiddling with it again – this time with arrivals from France, with arrivals from the country required to Self-Isolate on return to England.
Anyone arriving from France to England must continue to quarantine for 10 days, at home or in other accommodation, even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
From Monday 19 July, UK residents arriving from amber countries who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to quarantine, although they will still need to comply with necessary testing requirements.
However, this will not apply to France following the persistent presence of cases in France of the Beta variant, which was first identified in South Africa.
As such, anyone who has been in France in the last 10 days will need to quarantine on arrival to England in their own accommodation and will need a Day 2 and Day 8 test, regardless of their vaccination status.
This includes any fully vaccinated individual who transits through France from either a green or another amber country to reach England. If you need to release faster, The Test to Release scheme remains an option
Some operators may make specific arrangements compliant with the public health regulations that allow for transit without quarantine, for example, those travelling by train from Belgium via Eurostar, so travellers should check with their operator.
The UK Government places the blame on the Beta variant of COVID-19. In the quote, they say
While current cases of the Beta variant in France are not high enough to require arrivals to enter managed quarantine, it is important to consider the potential detection and transmission risk in light of the current situation in England. As a precautionary measure to protect the gains made in the UK’s vaccination programme, and as the country unlocks, anyone arriving from France to England will continue to quarantine for 10 days from early Monday morning, while we continue to assess the latest data and track prevalence of the Beta variant.
Currently, the Delta variant is responsible for most cases in the UK.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
We have always been clear that we will not hesitate to take rapid action at our borders to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the gains made by our successful vaccination programme.
With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
Travel will be different this year and whilst we are committed to continuing to open up international travel safely, our absolute priority is to protect public health here in the UK.
We urge everyone thinking about going abroad this summer to check their terms and conditions as well as the travel restrictions abroad before they go.
UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive Dr Jenny Harries said:
As we ease restrictions and begin making our way back to a normal life, it’s more vital than ever that we listen to the data and act decisively when it changes.
While vaccines are helping us turn the tables against this virus, we need to continue to proceed cautiously. That means maintaining our defences against new variants and protecting our hard won progress through the exceptional vaccination rollout.
Different Rules applies to some
With France being a main gateway to the United Kingdom for some trades – including hauliers, the existing amber list exemptions for key workers including hauliers will remain in place.
For those without an exemption, these rules will continue to apply to all arrivals from France into England, including those who live and work overseas, diplomats, and participants in authorised UK COVID-19 vaccine trials, as well as those who are under the age of 18.
As usual, anyone arriving in England will need to complete:
- A pre-departure test
- A Passenger Locator form
- A Day 2 test
In response, France has tightened its rules for UK travellers who are not fully vaccinated, requiring a negative test in the 24 hours before arrival from Sunday, rather than the 48 hours allowed previously. Anyone fully vaccinated with a jab from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson will be exempt from providing a negative test.
Chaotic at best.
The move shows that for anyone planning a trip abroad this year, that you should be prepared to change plans at a tip of the hat – rather than keep concrete plans. At worst its show a government policy that is at best wonky, at worst unworkable – impacting those who operate travel services and those who need to travel, be it for business, pleasure or to see a loved one.
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