UK quarantine for French travellers is ‘discriminatory’, says minister

Britain”s decision to lift its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU except France is “discriminatory” and “incomprehensible”, Paris said on Thursday.

“This is scientifically unfounded. It is a discriminatory decision, I think, towards the French, because all Europeans, even from countries with more difficult health situations than ours — because of the Delta variant or else — are not concerned, or no longer concerned, by the quarantine,” France’s Europe Minister, Clement Beaune told French broadcaster LCI on Thursday morning.

“It is excessive and frankly incomprehensible from a health point of view.”

“If I understood correctly, it is in the name of the Beta variant, the infamous variant from South Africa, which represents less than 5% of the cases in France and mostly in the overseas territories which are not concerned by the (travel) flows towards the United Kingdom,” he went on.

His comments come just a day after British authorities waived its 10-day self-isolation requirement for travellers from amber countries — which include the US and European Union member states — as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with jabs authorised in the UK.

But the measure, which comes into force on August 2, does not include France, which the UK has classed as “amber plus”, citing the Beta variant as a concern.

The UK is meanwhile on France’s “orange” category, meaning that fully vaccinated people can travel to France without submitting to quarantine upon arrival.

Both France and the UK recorded over 27,000 new infections on Wednesday but over the course of the past week, the UK recorded 71,000 more new cases than its neighbour across the Channel. During the previous seven-day period, the UK had recorded over 333,000 cases to France’s 81,877.

France remains behind on vaccination but is catching up after a slow start. It has so far administered at least one dose of the vaccine to 73% of its adult population and fully inoculated 62% of people aged 18 and over.

In the UK, more than 88% of adults have received at least one dose and 71.1% is fully vaccinated.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the quarantine decision for France would be reviewed “at the end of next week.”

“We say to the British, on the scientific level, on the health level, there is no justification for this decision and therefore I hope that it will be reviewed, it is common sense, as soon as possible,” Beaune said.

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