France will impose a compulsory quarantine on travellers arriving from the UK amid mounting concern over the rapid spread of the India variant of the coronavirus, a government spokesman has said.
Gabriel Attal told reporters following a weekly ministerial meeting on Wednesday that the government would announce “in the coming hours” exactly when the decision, which was widely expected, would come into effect.
France currently requires travellers from 16 countries, including Brazil, India, Argentina and Turkey, to undergo an obligatory 10 days of self-isolation days either at home or at a nominated, approved address, with the right to go out only two hours a day and a fine of €1,500 in the event of non-compliance.
Attal noted that Germany had already imposed strict controls on visitors from Britain and said France was taking “similar measures”. It is not yet clear who will be affected, although transport industry workers such as truck drivers are likely to be exempt.
Germany on Saturday banned all travellers from Britain from entering its territory from midnight on 23 May after the country’s national public health institute designated the UK as a “virus variant area of concern”.
German citizens and residents and their family members are exempt from the ban, as are those travelling for urgent humanitarian reasons, but everyone arriving from the UK must quarantine for two weeks even if have a negative PCR test.
The moves by France and Germany follow Spain’s decision last week to end all restrictions on British visitors from 24 May, with the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, saying the country would be “extremely delighted” to receive British tourists.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday the highly transmissible B.1.617 variant first identified in India, which experts have said could replace the B.1.1.7 strain first seen in the UK as Europe’s dominant variant, had been identified in 53 countries.
About 80 cases of the variant have been detected in 38 clusters since its first appearance in France on 11 May, most – but not all – related to people who had travelled to India, according to the most recent report by the public health authority.
France has already suspended direct flights from India and requires all travellers who have recently spent time in the country to self-isolate for 10 days and provide proof of the address where they will be staying, with officials carrying out spot checks.
France, Germany and Spain are on the British government’s amber list, meaning travellers arriving in the UK from those countries must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure PCR test and two post-arrival tests.