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France furious on the UK’s travel rules ahead of new review


The French government redoubled its criticism of the UK decision to maintain Covid restrictions on visitors from France while easing them for most European countries ahead of a British reassessment of those rules later this week, according to Bloomberg. 

The French anger stems from Britain’s decision to treat France differently from other countries on the amber list in its traffic-light system of travel rules.

As of Monday, fully vaccinated Britons, Americans and EU arrivals from amber list countries are exempt from isolation requirements, except for those from France, because of UK concern about the prevalence of the beta variant of the virus there

French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said the UK decision last month, which requires travellers from France to isolate for up to 10 days and take two tests, is based on questionable science and urged the government to reverse course quickly.

The dispute comes as relations between the UK and the European Union remain difficult. Last month, the UK demanded a renegotiation of the Brexit deal governing Northern Ireland, something the bloc has refused.

“I hope this week during their weekly review there will be a positive change,” Djebbari told CNews TV station on Monday, in a reference to a possible assessment of UK rules on Thursday.

Djebbari said he’s been talking with his UK counterpart Grant Shapps every week.

In a separate interview with CNews, French Junior Minister for EU Affairs Clement Beaune stated that the UK restrictions are “a little bit political,” regrettable and discriminatory.

In the four weeks ended July 13, France recorded 29 cases of the beta variant, representing 0.8% of known infections, according to data compiled by Gisaid, which tracks Covid mutations.

Under the UK system, people entering from the U.K. from green listed countries must take a Covid-19 test before arrival and take another two days later but don’t have to self-isolate.

A green watch list is also in place flagging countries that may be moved to amber. Those coming from amber list countries must quarantine at home for 10 days if not fully vaccinated, as well as take Covid tests. Those entering from red list countries must quarantine at their own expense in government-sanctioned hotels.

Pressure to stop the ever-changing rules is also coming from the airline industry in the UK, which has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic and says the lack of clarity is undermining confidence in Brits considering a summer vacation in Europe.