France, the Netherlands and Malta added to the UK's coronavirus travel quarantine list
The UK government is to add France, the Netherlands and Malta to the list of countries from which passengers must quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.
All three countries have seen a surge in virus cases in recent days.
“If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days,” Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said in a tweet.
He added the move was to “keep infection rates DOWN”.
In a later statement, he clarified: “We’re saying to people you can stay and finish your holiday, but you have to be aware you will have to quarantine after that.
“And that is mandatory, I’m afraid, because we do need to protect the lower rates we’ve managed to establish in this country.
“And that does apply UK wide so all four parts of the United Kingdom, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England all moving on this together this evening.”
It came amid concerns over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in France, which is the second-most popular holiday destination for UK tourists after Spain.
The country on Thursday added 2,524 new coronavirus cases to its tally in 24 hours — the highest daily increase since May when lockdown measures were lifted.
From 3-9 August, France recorded a weekly rate of 15 cases per 100,000, with the Netherlands and Malta reporting rates of 19 and 35 respectively.
Monaco, Turks and Caicos, as well as Aruba were also taken off the UK’s list of so-called “coronavirus travel corridors”.
The British government in July imposed a quarantine on all travellers arriving from Spain and Belgium.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez condemned the decision saying in an interview with local broadcaster Telecinco that the ruling is “inappropriate” and doesn’t fit with Spain’s current epidemiological situation.
He argued that places heavily dependent on British tourists, like the Balearics and the Canary Islands, as well as Valencia and Andalusia, were safe destinations, as most of the new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the north-eastern regions of Catalonia and Aragon.
France initially recorded lower cases when considering a seven days average per 100,000 than the UK but saw a peak in the last week meaning its total crept above Britain’s.
The continental European country’s increase was much lower than Spain or Belgium’s, however.
Infection levels are highest in Paris and the areas surrounding it as well as on France’s south coast.
French health authorities said at the end of July: “We have cancelled much of the progress that we’d achieved in the first weeks of lockdown-easing.”
It also warned that French citizens appeared to be letting their guard down during their summer vacations and that those who test positive are not self-isolating enough.