The UK’s decision to maintain an obligatory 10-day quarantine for fully-vaccinated people coming back from France is “excessive”, “not scientific” and is “political”, says the French government.
Reprisals of some kind are possible after the UK decided to maintain the restriction concerning France while lifting it for all other ‘amber’ designated countries, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal following a meeting of the French cabinet.
He said: “The decision taken by the British authorities to impose this obligatory quarantine on the French is not taken on health considerations but on political considerations and it is, to our mind, excessive.”
He added the government would “not close any doors” with regard to possible reciprocal measures, though he did not indicate what these may be.
The UK’s decision relates to people vaccinated in the UK who visit France. The UK says it is based on concerns over the prevalence of the Beta variant in France, however the latest European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data shows the variant to be more prevalent in Spain and Greece, which are not concerned by the UK’s quarantine rule.
European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune told BFMTV: “We do not think that the decisions of the UK are totally based on scientific grounds. We find them excessive.”
He added that the Beta variant was in fact “now well under control”.
The variant is dominant in French overseas region La Réunion, but not in mainland France.
French MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir has also criticised the decision as “difficult to understand”, especially as the Beta variant is mostly found in the overseas territories.
France’s current position on arrivals from the UK is to have no restrictions on fully-vaccinated people, but strict requirements for the unvaccinated, including an 'essential reason' for coming, a test before arrival, accepting to take a test on arrival if required, and then entering a seven-day quarantine period and taking another test at the end of it.
Since France’s recent decisions around Covid all focus on encouraging vaccination, it is unclear what ‘reciprocal measures’ may be taken, though logically they could include reimposing a quarantine requirement also on those who are vaccinated.
However, at present even those coming from red-listed countries do not have to quarantine in France if they are fully vaccinated.