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Tunnel operator complains to PM over UK quarantine rules

Channel Tunnel operator Getlink has complained to the UK prime minister of a “virtually impossible administrative burden” for its staff due to the new British quarantine rules.

Paris-based Getlink, formerly Groupe Eurotunnel, runs the actual tunnel and also the Le Shuttle vehicle transport services.

Workers who live in the UK or France and travel once a week or more to the other country for work do not have to observe the UK’s 14-day quarantine, but do have to complete the same form before they arrive.

Getlink president Jacques Gounon wrote to Boris Johnson at the weekend telling him the rules were drawn up by the UK’s Home Office without consulation with the firm and said they mean that its staff crossing over from France to the UK need to fill out a multi-page form for every crossing.

Connexion was told today that he has had no reply so far. 

A company spokesman said: “As our staff frequently cross over seven or eight times a day, you can see the problem.

“Even though our people are exempt from the quarantine regulations and work in an international trans-border zone operated by a concession granted to the company by both France and the UK, we still have to fill out the same forms as passengers arriving at an airport from a country on the other side of the world.”

The company says it has no quarrel over the decision to impose the quarantine on health grounds, but only regard to how it is being implemented.

“We have all the information the government requires, right down to where individual workers are at any time, and are happy to set up communication channels to provide it in a form the government wants, but our attempts to get in touch with the Home Office have not been successful. Instead it seems stuck on a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Getlink is not joining three airlines, Ryanair, EasyJet and IAG, the owner of British Airways, in seeking judicial review of the quarantine regulations.

The company’s Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service is a popular way for travellers to go to the UK and it reports that in May, in spite of all the travel restrictions, 41,000 passenger vehicles used its services.

“People like the idea that you can travel, isolated in your own car, without coming into contact with anyone else, which is not the case with other ways of travelling,” the spokesman said.

It is soon to launch a new advertising campaign stressing the isolated bubble idea of travel, aimed at second home owners and people looking for gîte holidays in France.

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