Thousands of holidaymakers are desperately trying to get back to the UK after several popular destinations were added to the quarantine rule last night.
France, Malta and the Netherlands have now been removed from the travel corridor scheme, along with Monaco, Turks & Caicos and Aruba. The UK government now advises against all non-essential travel to these countries and territories.
The announcement means those already on holiday in these destinations will now face two weeks self-isolation on their return.
But it doesn't kick in until 4am on Saturday, which has seen travellers on Friday scrambling to get back to Britain before the restrictions are imposed.
There is estimated to be roughly 500,000 Brits currently in France alone.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it will not be necessary for people to quarantine on their return to the UK from France if they do so before Saturday at 4am.
However he predicts an estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to look to return to the UK from France following the announcement.
Due to demand, British tourists in France are currently being charged hundreds of pounds to return home before quarantine restrictions begin.
Air fares are more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London on Friday, with the cheapest British Airways tickets being sold for £452.
The lowest priced Eurostar tickets available on Friday morning are £210.
Travellers willing to pay these inflated fares could still miss out due to many services already being fully booked.
The move, which applies throughout the UK, comes after Boris Johnson promised to be “absolutely ruthless” in decisions about imposing new quarantine restrictions.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England detected a significant change in coronavirus risk in all six destinations.
Department for Transport officials said data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases and a 52% increase in the weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in infections.
The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.
The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.
France’s secretary of state for European affairs said the UK decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” across the Channel.
Clement Beaune tweeted: “A British decision which we regret and which will lead to reciprocal measures, all in hoping for a return for normal as soon as possible.”
There has also been a consistent increase in newly reported cases in the Netherlands over the past four weeks, with a 52% increase in newly reported cases between August 7 and 13.
Over the past week, there has been a 273% increase in newly reported cases in Turks & Caicos and 1,106% increase in newly reported cases in Aruba.
Malta has had a 105% increase in newly reported cases over the past week.
While travel industry experts have also voiced concerns about the effect restrictions are having on the tourism industry worldwide.
A spokeswoman for travel trade organisation Abta said: “The Government’s measures to restrict travel will result in livelihoods being lost unless it can step in with tailored support for the travel industry.
“The announcements relating to Spain, and now France, impact the two biggest destinations for British holidaymakers at the height of the summer season, affecting an industry that has had its trade significantly restricted since the start of this crisis.
“At this time of recession, a plan is urgently needed to protect the 221,000 jobs the travel industry sustains.”