Great Britain

Brits in France slam quarantine ‘shambles’ as Eurotunnel boss warns trains are ‘fully booked’ and you’ll be turned away

BRITS stuck in France have slammed the quarantine "shambles" - as the Eurotunnel boss warns trains are "fully booked" today.

Holidaymakers making a last dash trip out of France trying to avoid the two-week enforced quarantine have been hit with huge queues, with many turned away.

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Half a million Brits are now evacuating for Blighty amid a spike in coronavirus cases across holiday spots - they need to get back before 4am tomorrow to avoid quarantine.

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle warned all shuttles are fully booked until tomorrow.

A statement added: "Please do not arrive at the terminal unless you have a ticket valid for travel today."

It comes after boss John Keefe told BBC Newsnight trains were "already pretty much fully booked" today, as panicked Brits tried to get home.

There are winding queues building to board ferries at Calais for Dover - with passengers struggling to get last minute tickets. 

IT manager Lewis Kitson, 37, said: “This is just a complete shambles. It’s chaos. They’re making it up as they go along now.

“They can’t justify this. It’s guess work. I’m not bothered about quarantine if I’m too late. I’ve just come through France on a road trip. I’m trying to book to get home.

“They’ll have to put me in prison before I comply with quarantine.

What we know so far:

“The whole thing is ridiculous. It’s still not enough time. I’m really trying to get a ferry booked. It’s a disgrace.”

And another returning Brit revealed she was forced to quit her job on a superyacht in the south of France over fears quarantine would make her miss her first few weeks at university.

The 21-year-old stewardess, who arrived into London’s St Pancras International at 9am today, said: "I don't think the quarantine is a good thing at all. I think it is so stupid. 

“There is nothing whatsoever stopping anyone visiting their friends and family when they have been travelling.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said anyone who turns up trying to get a last minute seat home before the quarantine comes into force will "almost certainly be disappointed."

Mr Shapps told Sky News: "Clearly quite a lot of people may be trying to return immediately.

"The advice from all the travel operators is very clear, to contact them in advance.

"Don't just turn up because you will almost certainly be disappointed and it will just create queues which no one wants to see."

Michael Smallwood, 60, of New Ash Green Kent, was booked on a ferry to leave for Dover on Monday but is scrambling to leave France today.

The self-employed carpet cleaner faces losing a lot of business if forced to quarantine and couldn't get in touch with the ferry company.

He said: “It’s a race against time. It’s not good. It’s worrying.”

Although required to by law, some Brits say they cannot afford to quarantine for two weeks.

Two pub workers arriving back in London from a 10-day trip to Belgium should be self-isolating for 14 days - but that they had been taken off furlough and needed to work.

Asking to remain anonymous, one said: "I need the money, I can't work from home, I need to work. It's so tricky.

"My boss won't allow me to legally, so I'll need to find some kind of odd work in the meantime to get by."

“We’ve been on the west coast in France and they’ve been nearly empty. We’ve felt safe here. We now feel quite stressed and worried.”

The Government’s decision gives half a million Brits currently in France less than a day to get back if they want to avoid going into quarantine.

But with flights fully booked and the Channel Tunnel packed, many will miss the deadline of 4am tomorrow.

More than 5,000 people have searched to book a ferry to Dover today, the P&O website says, with many of the listed times as "limited service".

It also looks to be a struggle to book with firm DFDS., with eight time slots having sold out completely.

A spokesman for DFDS told The Sun: “Availability is very limited. There is some slots before 5pm but after that it is not possible.

“And we are just expecting it to get busier and busier. 

“All of our ferries are running but unfortunately it’s not possible to have extra bookings on board because of the Covid situation. I’d urge people to check online before you leave.”

Families with children now risk missing the first week of school as  14-day self-isolation measures are re-imposed.

Another 500,000 Brits due to travel to France in the coming weeks will have their holiday plans thrown into chaos.

Are you stranded in France? Call The Sun Online newsdesk on 0207 782 4368, WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502 or email [email protected] 

The Netherlands and Malta were also added to the quarantine list last night.

Boris Johnson said yesterday that he had to be “absolutely ruthless” over imposing the travel rules, “even with our closest and dearest friends and partners”

The PM added: “I think everybody understands that. We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation.

“Everybody understands that in a pandemic you don’t allow our population to be re-infected or the disease to come back in.

"That is why the quarantine measures are very important and we have to apply them in a very strict way."

Seats on a British Airways flight from Paris' Charles De Gaulle airport to Heathrow on Friday quadrupled in price - from £100 to £407 - after the Government's announcement. 

Channel Tunnel operator Getlink said extra services may be laid on but warned many passengers face missing out on the quarantine deadline.

John Keefe, Getlink's director of public affairs, told BBC Newsnight the trains were "already pretty much fully booked" today.

GET HOME NOW!

The Sun can reveal that concerned medics intervened to warn the PM that France’s numbers were starting to spiral out of control.

Ministers had hoped cases would flatten so they would not have to remove it  from the “green list”  — countries where people do not have to self-isolate upon return.

But France recorded 2,669 new Covid-19 cases yesterday — a record outside of lockdown.

The infection rate over 14 days rose to 32.1 per 100,000.

Anyone found breaching the quarantine rules faces a £1,000 fine.

The PM risks a row with France’s president Emmanuel Macron, who was on holiday yesterday in the South of France.

Downing Street also fears tit-for-tat quarantine measures will be imposed by France on any Brit tourists arriving there next week.

Restrictions have been imposed on 20 of the largest French cities.
Paris, Toulouse, Lille and Biarritz are among those ordering people to wear masks in  outdoor areas.

Travel experts warned that any quarantine decision on France — Brits’ second-most popular holiday destination — will be another blow to an industry reeling from Covid.

QUARANTINE Q&A

Q: What does the quarantine involve?

A: ANYONE returning from France, Malta or the Netherlands will have to fill in an online passenger locator form upon arrival in the UK.
You will need to indicate how you travelled, your contact details and address where you will isolate for 14 days.

You can have necessities delivered but must stay away from others.

Q: What if I don’t quarantine?

A: YOU could be fined up to £1,000. If you move address after giving one for quarantine, and fail to update to the new one you can be fined up to £3,200.

Q: I’ve booked flights to a quarantine country. Can I get my money back if I don’t want to travel?

A: EASYJET and British Airways are allowing customers the chance to rebook, accept a credit note or get a refund.

Ryanair will not offer refunds but will allow you to change flight dates without a change fee. Many airlines plan to continue to fly so it is important to check.

Q: Will Eurotunnel and ferry crossings be cancelled? Will I get my money back?

A: FERRY firms and Eurotunnel are planning to continue services for now. If you choose not to travel contact them about your options.

Most are offering to postpone or rearrange crossings for later in the year if you have booked a flexible ticket.

Other tickets will be considered on a case-by-case basis but you may be allowed to rebook.

Paul Charles,  of  consultancy The PC Agency, said: “No one in the travel sector wants France to be added to the quarantine list.

"It is such a vital market to keep open.

He added: “The Government needs to be ruthless on providing the world’s best testing regime rather than the economically- damaging quarantine policy.”

Monaco and Caribbean destinations Aruba and the Turks and Caicos  were also booted off the green list, meaning people returning from those places from tomorrow will also need to self-isolate for 14 days.

But Gibraltar was  reprieved. Brits heading home from France last night gave their reaction.

Robert Chmielewski, 33, from Basingstoke, Hants, was on a UK-bound ferry  after visiting pals.

GREAT ESCAPE

He said: “I knew quarantine was coming. Some announcements have been chaos so I thought I should head home. It’s a bit of luck."

Ruth Thompson, 35, of Bristol, said: “I had to get out.

"Cases had been creeping up for a few days. It became too much of a risk.

Roger Slight, 50, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, was going the other way  but said he hopes he won’t be affected because he is just travelling through France in a camper van.

On Wednesday there were 1,009 new cases of coronavirus in Britain — less than half the total in France.

Prof Tim Spector,  at King’s College London, said: “It’s encouraging to see   numbers  coming down slightly, and that isolated outbreaks in the North appear to be well contained so far.

“This is further confirmation that we aren’t at the beginning of a second wave and, rather, still trying to end the first.

“The figures also suggest that the outbreaks in countries such as Belgium, France and Spain aren’t having an effect here in the UK yet.

“And people flocking to beaches and parks doesn’t seem to be having the predicted negative impact.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, announcing the new travel rules last night, added to the chaos by getting the deadline day wrong — saying it was Sunday instead of tomorrow.

The Sun understands that Downing Street  initially intended it to be Sunday, but the Scottish and Welsh governments pressed for tomorrow.

Employers cannot claim back statutory sick pay, and have no obligation to pay wages to those in quarantine, although many  do.

Brits with no hope of getting back before the  changes will be able to claim Universal Credit if they are not paid during their self-isolation. 

However there are calls from backbench Tory MPs for the Government to pay the wages of tourists if they are caught out by rule changes while already away.

The Foreign Office will advise against all “non-essential” travel to France —  but it will  mean  those due to head there on holiday will be able to claim their cash back.

Holland and Malta at risk of being added to UK’s quarantine list after rise in coronavirus cases

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