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BREAKING: France, Netherlands, Malta and others added to the UK Government quarantine list

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The Government announced very late on Thursday evening that anyone returning to the UK from France will need to quarantine for 14 days.

The quarantine requirement will kick in from 4am on Saturday morning and will doubtless trigger a mass rush to leave France during Friday from those who need to return to work next week.  It would, arguably, have been more sensible to impose quarantine from 4am on Sunday morning, allowing those whose holidays end on Saturday to return on their scheduled flights, trains and ferries.

This is what I found when I went on the Eurotunnel website at 11pm on Thursday night:

Eurotunnel queue

As well as France, the quarantine rules will also apply to returnees from:

  • The Netherlands
  • Monaco
  • Malta
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Aruba

Hotel du Palais Biarritz

The following countries had already been added to the quarantine list over the previous two weeks:

  • Andorra
  • The Bahamas
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg

It is not yet clear if these countries will be added to the Foreign Office ‘do not travel’ list (click here), which is usually the trigger for being to abandon your holiday plans and make a successful travel insurance claim.  (EDIT: they have been added.  This means that your travel insurance is no longer valid.)

The official ‘travel corridor’ list – which is shrinking by the week – is on this page of the Government website.  Two countries have been removed from the quarantine list in recent days – Brunei and Malaysia – so it is an active two-way street.

PS. As people are asking, the hotel in the picture above is the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz.  Once one of the most fashionable hotels in France, it had lost its lustre in recent years.  There were plans to convert it into a Four Seasons but this fell through and, after substantial upgrading, it will reopen next year as part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection.  The Hyatt web page for it is here.  I am keen to try it out.

Comments (204)

  • Andy S says:

    You could get the train to Germany and flight to the UK to aviod the 14 day quarantine!

    • Benedict says:

      Eye roll. Of course there are workarounds, no country is watertight and every government needs broad public acceptance to be able to function.

      The way I think about it is – sure, you can find a workaround. And if only a few people do it, it’s no biggie from a statistical perspective.

      BUT if you start posting on open forums, you make others think it’s ok. That’s when mass breaches of the rules happen, and people get ill. As a – no doubt – responsible adult Andy, it’s better not to propagate this stuff.

      • Tariq says:

        Or we could just accept that a microscopic number of lives saved is not worth the curtailment of our freedoms and the devastation of our economy.

        • J says:

          Maybe not a microscopic number of lives saved – but the net years of life saved/lost calculations will be fairly interesting in a few decades.

          • Rob says:

            There may not even be ‘excess deaths’ this year. I think it was Australia where standard flu deaths are down 90% this year. There is a real possibility, looking at (say) Feb 2020 to Feb 2021, that UK deaths may fall below the long term average bizarrely. However, as part of the ‘saving’ is due to distancing (the other part is people who did a few months earlier than they otherwise would from CV) it doesn’t help the argument because those deaths would have occured in a fully open economy.

          • J says:

            Yep, and recessions are murderous little *****.

        • Susan says:

          You might be happy to throw my life away but are you vounteering your own or your child’s? And with this disease the impact is not just the death rates – many of those who survive have severe long-term health defects.

        • Lady London says:

          Or we could do what the government tells us to do, even if we’re personally certain it’s rubbish, because giving the government consistency is the only way they can eventually identify a way to get us out of this.

          We have to open the economy now and proceed with socisl distancing. it’s unfair but anyone specially at risk is going to have to not circulate. I am happy for my taxes to support those people with local authorities organising free weekly delivery of items to those people.

          But the rest of us have to reopen / get back to work / education (a nightmare to prevent transmission) now.

    • Simon says:

      If you flew into France or got the Eurostar would it not be recorded on your passport that you’d been in France?

      • Lady London says:

        Yes but once in Schengen mostly the borders are invisible. Many times I;m not even sure what country I’m in .

        Otherwise everywhere you’ve been – if you appeared at a passport booth or machine is recorded line by line everywhere you go and readable by most immgiration authorities worldwide.

  • Heathrow Flyer says:

    As a side note – private car travel through France, Belgium, Luxembourg etc is allowed per FCO rules – without quarantine – as long as you don’t stop and mix.

    Calais > German border is easily driveable in one go in around 3 hours.

  • Mike says:

    Hope rates will Plummet in Malta now. Do you think that will kick in soon or take a bit of time? I think some hotels have been really greedy, especially in Malta. That’s blown up in their faces now.

    • John says:

      It was like 30 people per day but because of Malta being small the rate is high compared to a big country which is mostly virus free but one or two hotspots.

  • Chris says:

    I’m supposed to be going to Paris on Saturday afternoon for one night, then a train to Strasbourg for three nights, and a train to Reims for three more nights before flying home next Saturday. I don’t mind quarantining for 14 days as I’m unemployed at the moment anyway…

    I guess this is all banjaxed now? The FCO is advising against all but essential travel, which this isn’t, but it’s just advice, right? It invalidates my current travel insurance policy, but I can buy a policy that does cover me, and the EHIC covers emergency medical treatment (including COVID-19).

    • Crafty says:

      “I don’t mind quarantining”

      Just bear in mind quarantining is more, and different, than self-isolating. You shouldn’t be leaving the house for any purpose if you are in quarantine – no shopping, no exercise.

      • Chris says:

        Yep, that’s me! (Sadly.)

      • Heathrow Flyer says:

        Quarantine and self-isolation are the same thing.

        If one of Serco’s finest Netflix-watching contact tracers calls you up and and asks you to self-isolate for 14 days because you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive, I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to pop to the shops or out for a quick Pilates session.

        Additionally – the quarantine guidance does allow you to go out for essential shopping if there’s no other way of getting your groceries.

        • Crafty says:

          Sorry, I’ve used the term self-isolation loosely and incorrectly. Lots of people I know said things like “I’m self-isolating” over the past 6 months to describe a voluntary pattern of mainly staying at home. Anyway, my point is quarantine is involuntary and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

        • Lady London says:

          … which is why it should not be called quarantine.

          True quarantine means complete isolation even if you would starve. It does not mean going out to the shops for any reason… otherwise what on earth is the point? you are meant to be quarantined becuase you are a danger to others. so allowing you out makes this a totally laughable thing to call quarantine.

          Ridiculous.

          • Susan says:

            +1 quarantine is to allow you to get sick and (hopefully only in the old days) die without putting others at risk. Stay-at-home-unless-you-fancy-a-snack is not quarantining. If the govt were serious it would ensure home deliveries of basic groceries for those in quarantine.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Heathrow [email protected] let me get this right self-isolating and Quarantine are the “SAME” ?
          So if i have Covid and i need to go to the shops ? it’s perfectly ok ?

          • Heathrow Flyer says:

            If you retire at 50, Chris Hayes, then quarantine should cause you little inconvenience.

          • Rob says:

            It’s substantially more inconvenient! Workers can just sit at home and, erm, work. There’s golf to be played, restaurants to visit etc ….

      • Stoneman says:

        That is not true. You are able to visit the shops for essential purchases. So, just take a shopping bag wherever you go. More to the point, you are very unlikely to ever be check on in given the governments inabilitytodo even basic things well.

        • John says:

          Well you are allowed to shop in supermakets if that is really your only option. If there is a way it is possible for you not to do this then you are not meant to.

          • Stoneman says:

            What was is “not meant to” and what one “can do” are of course two different things. Essentially, the quarantining is not fit for purpose so I would not (nor will i being) cancelling my holiday to the French countryside (which I will get to via a car and stay in my private Gite for two weeks, expecting to see bugger and all). Of course, this is much more dangerous than visiting the local barbers, the pub etc!

          • AndyC says:

            The most recent quarantine regulations state:

            “You cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas. You should not go shopping. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery.”

    • Richmond_Surrey says:

      Just get another insurance policy and go.

      • S879 says:

        Which insurance are people getting for COVID cover as Amex platinum doesn’t cover it I think. Or does it cover for countries not on the quarantine list.

        • BT01 says:

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          • Chris says:

            Does it cover France, where the FCO has advised against all travel or all but essential travel?

          • S879 says:

            Thanks BT01. Just wanted to be clear though that if someone flies to a country that is NOT on the quarantine list like Dubai, Turkey etc and then catches COVID, Amex platinum will not cover medical costs. Have I got that right? I can understand them not covering of someone travels to say, Greece againt advice.

          • Rob says:

            Dubai (well, UAE) IS on the ‘must quarantine’ list.

          • Rob says:

            You can’t seriously consider buying insurance from someone who uses fonts like that in their emails.

          • Chrisasaurus says:

            *Rushes to buy Insurance from a mobile number posted by Random Internet Guy*

            Only missing Comic Sans MS in that and you’d have Charlatan bingo sewn up…

        • Lady London says:

          quarantine is things like the old TB hospitals as @Susan is mentioning. Or ebola, or deadly things that mean the person must die sooner than come any place other people use.

          For this government to call ‘except if you need to go to the shops’ quarantine is a sign of their total incompetence putting others at risk. Otherwise dont call it quarantine.

          Easy enough for medical assigned people on each local council to outsource weekly delivery of basic hygiene and food packs to citizens in quarantine. It would become important for illegal immigrants to call themselves ‘house guests’ so as to be included in support which in this day and age is probably rightfully a community cost.

      • Chris says:

        Not possible. I can’t find a travel insurance policy that covers me if I get COVID-19 while away AND is valid when the FCO advise against all but essential travel. I checked nine different ones yesterday, including Trailfinders. No dice.

        Here’s the standard text I saw on all of them:
        66
        You will not be covered if you travel to or remain in a country or region where the Travel Advice Unit of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the World Health Organisation has advised against all travel or all but essential travel or where you have travelled against the advice of the local authority at your trip destination, unless agreed otherwise with the insurer.
        99

        • S879 says:

          Interesting, I wonder how some companies are selling policies that cover COVID. So, I suppose if you travel, you travel at own risk and cost and no point getting any ‘extra’ policies.

        • Frankie says:

          Battleface Insurance.

        • Lady London says:

          not being covered if you ‘remain in’ a country not on the supported list is a bit dirty. You may get stuck there and travel may be more dangerous than staying put. I think an insurance co could lose that argument in court if staying was well presented as voluntary or mitigating risk.

          I cannot say how much I regret not having renewed my usual annual travel insurance at the start of this year as usual.

  • Simon says:

    I wonder how they are defining which country Basel airport is in

    • 1ATL says:

      The Basel-Mulhouse airport is located in France and immigration are French with a reciprocal agreement in place with Switzerland. The city of Basel itself lies to the south just across the country border in Switzerland. Your passport would identify you as having arrived/departed France regardless as to where you actually went.

      Fly to Geneva or Zurich instead and take a InterCity train direct to Basel if you don’t want the headache of a 14 day quarantine upon arrival back in the UK.

      • Lady London says:

        And back to being on topic, often booking to Basel via ZRH by this method is cheaper than booking to ZRH. And yes, what you’re thinking of doing with that, is fine and works seamlessly without any hassle.

        • Dubious says:

          Although in the event of flight disruption the airline is only obliged to get you to BSL which they might mean they rebook you on a direct flight.

          I had this with a booking BIO-MAD-LHR…the MAD-LHR was retuned so I ended up on a direct BIO-LGW and lost my 4th BA flight segment for Gold Tier renewal as a result.

          • Lady London says:

            🙂 always a worry with clever ticketing! in the case of bsl then its just a very quick tram from airport to bsl station and easy, (and not that expensive) frequent train to zrh.

      • HH says:

        I’m not sure that’s right. I flew back from BSL on Monday and passport control asked me whether I’m returning from Switzerland or France, which the officer seemed to then type in – I’ve never been asked this before. AFAIK if you enter the Swiss sector of the airport from the road connecting to Basel, you have not left Switzerland even though it’s built on French soil. And on my UK Passenger Locator Form, I only listed Switzerland. I don’t think they’ll be mandating quarantine, as you technically haven’t entered or transited in France – it’s a binational airport.

        • Lady London says:

          A bit like Berlin when Germany was still divided. West Berlin was West German territory but located deep in East German territory.

          When you drove to West Berlin you were on a fenced road that ran inside East Germany. You entered this road hours (IIRC about 4hrs) before you reached West Berlin.

          When you reached West Berlin, if you wanted to go to East Berlin you had to cross the border from West Germany to East Germany at one of the border crossings within Berlin where the road would run from one side to the other. IIRC there were about 3 ? main places one of which was Checkpoint Charlie. I sm sure locals knew unofficial places where you could cross instead of the official checkpoints. But if you did that you had to cross a “no man’s land’ empty flat space between East and West where people got shot – literally.

          To get back to West Germany by car I think there were only 2 ? long fenced roads out – hours running through East Germany before you would be inside West Germany again.

          So I guess the road from Basel to Basel-Mulhouse Airport, which is located quite deep in French territory is a mini version of this :-). Unlike at Geneva where the airport in CH is much closer to F.

          • HH says:

            That is a fascinating parallel, and I suppose it is exactly like that—minus the barbed wire fencing and risk of being shot!

            Also for clarity as I’m seeing a lot of confusion on Twitter – if you’re travelling from:

            1) Switzerland – you use the Swiss sector without technically ‘entering’ France (as above)

            2) France – you use the French sector and needless to say would be subject to UK quarantine

            3) Germany – this is where it gets interesting. E.g. from Freiburg, the direct Flixbus will take you to the French sector and you will have entered France BUT if you get the train to Basel and bus 50 to the airport via the Swiss customs area road (or drive this route) you will not have technically entered France

      • RussellH says:

        Has Basel airport restructured? Yes, it is situated in France.
        But like GVA (I believe) when I was last there there were separate exits, one to CH, one to France.
        You can arrive by car from either country; if from CH then along the fenced off road through France.

      • John says:

        Just departed BSL. Passport wasn’t scanned – the officer just looked at it like they used to do everywhere in 2017. He didn’t even make me remove my mask!

      • Joe says:

        I live near Basel (Swiss side of the border).

        Not entirely sure that’s correct or at least not clearly correct. Inside the airport is split into a French and Swiss section and there’s French and Swiss carparks. The road to Basel itself is in Swiss customs territory.

        If you live in Basel and head to Basel airport and fly to the UK, you will never leave Swiss customs territory.

    • FLYGVA says:

      According to the treaty between Switzerland and France from 1949 (https://www.euroairport.com/de/euroairport/unternehmen/wir-ueber-uns/schweizerisch-franzoesischer-staatsvertrag.html) the airport is France and French law is applicable if the treaty does not have a different ruling.

    • Alex says:

      It’s a tricky one, it’s on French soil, but it’s a dual place. BA fly to the Swiss side of the airport (BSL, not MLH), so you can get duty free from LHR. Border controls are done by both Swiss and French officers depending on shifts (I’ve had more Swiss than French over the last 2 years). But after the luggage belts you pick which side you exit, and customs agents are there for the corresponding country.

      You could argue for both, and you could make a case to UKBF for either. I doubt an officer in London would be able to make a decision.

      I flew there last Sunday and will fly back from there later in the month, but I’ll have been to all three countries in the area (FR, DE, CH) so my PLF will be fun to fill.

      • John says:

        Just leaving BSL on BA now.

        Entered from Swiss side. Security staff speak French. Duty free priced in euros. Post security cafe priced in CHF. Border agent was Swiss and spoke German. Gate agents spoke English only.

        • Lady London says:

          Tills in CH seem to take Euros all the time if you ask and the switch seems to be at bank rate or close enough.

          • John says:

            If the shop is priced in CHF the current rate for euros is 1.01, very far off the spot right of 1.08

      • John says:

        I crossed the borders 10 times in 3 hours. There’s a bus route that crosses CH-D 5 times in the space of 20 minutes I think

    • Simon says:

      The FCO website is saying anyone returning from Basel airport needs to self isolate for 14 days regardless of where they entered the airport. Switzerland look like they are getting close to being added so it might be a moot point soon.

  • Sam says:

    I don’t understand.
    ‘You will need to self-isolate if you visited or made a transit stop in a country or territory that is not on the list in the 14 days before you arrive in England.’ so assuming someone who has stayed in the Netherlands for more than 2 weeks then this person will not need to self-isolate, because there have been two weeks worth of days that country is not on the list whilst the person is there?

    • Alex says:

      No. If the country you are returning from is no longer on the exempt list at the time you land in England then you must self-isolate for 14 days.

      • Yuff says:

        Alex, if I have not misunderstood your reply are you saying if I am in Spain and fly to Germany, and stay overnight, before returning to the uk I would not need to quarantine?

        • 1ATL says:

          He’s saying if you were in Spain and stopped over in Germany for 1nt enroute, you’d still need to quarantine upon arrival in the UK because you’ve been in Spain less than 14 days previously. If you stopped over in Germany for 14 days then continued to the UK that would be fine.
          In reality however?….. I have my doubts they’d know but being a sensible and responsible citizen I’ve got no intention to put it to the test. I’m guessing this is probably why Balearics and Canaries are also banned under Spain despite low infection rates there – you can’t know if someone’s taken a domestic flight or ferry to Palma so that they can then catch a “permitted” flight to the UK for example. Spain is Spain in that respect.

        • John says:

          You have to quarantine for 13 days in the UK as you left Spain 1 day before you landed in the UK.

          If you spent a week in Germany instead of a day you’d have to quarantine a week in the UK.

        • Big Dave says:

          …assuming you’d want to tell porkies and say you were in germany and never went to spain then hope you paid everything in cash – not saying they have the time and resources to trawl through everyone’s bank statements but if the poop really hit the fan they would have the means to do so

          • Stoneman says:

            I would accidently forget to mention it…

          • Richmond_Surrey says:

            No one is going to check statements. Form is going to Public Health England and they check maybe 20% of them. In order to check someone’s statements, it will have to go through police and prosecution. So far, 9 people where fined for refusing filling the form and one person for being in a pub.

  • The Original Nick says:

    Has anyone tried cancelling a Eurostar ticket and got a cash refund? I have Lille booked for next Saturday but now I’m not going to go.

    • John says:

      You can change the date for free especially if you paid more than the current price of the date you want.
      I have a Brussels ticket I’ve changed about 20 times. I aid £50 but most dates are on sale for £39 so no fees

    • Stoneman says:

      Yes but I had to use a friend who works at Network rail to cite various laws to ensure I got a refund otherwise I was being lumbered with a voucher.

      • Lady London says:

        Eurostar is a French company really. So their reflex is to deny refunds even when they themselves cancelled a train.

        However law as strong as EU261 applies and you are entitled to a cash refund.

  • Anna says:

    I’ve got flights to Carcassonne booked for October half term – does this mean I can claim them back on my insurance (I suspect the flight will still go but we can’t do quarantine)? Our policy covers COVID related issues but of course the government might reverse the decision before then.

    • Graham says:

      Nationwide insurance asks you not to try to claim until 28 days before. I don’t know if other insurers are similar. There is a chance that they may be removed from the list for example.

    • Harry T says:

      May be too soon to consider invoking travel insurance. Also, I believe most policies will only allow you to cancel and claim if the FCO advice at the time of travel is to not visit that country.

      • Anna says:

        At least I’m off the hook for my 600 euro “non-refundable” Hilton Hotel booking though!