Great Britain

Paris and stretch of Med coast declared coronavirus ‘red’ zones by French government as Brits flee

PARIS and a stretch of the Mediterranean coast have today been declared coronavirus ‘red’ zones as holidaying Brits flee France ahead of new quarantine clampdowns.

The French government ruled the capital city and Marseille and its surrounding region high-risk areas granting the authorities the powers to impose localised lockdowns.

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The declaration, made in an official government decree, follows a sharp and worrying increase in COVID-19 infections in France over the past two weeks.

On Thursday, France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 infections for the second day in a row, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

The government move gives local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area powers to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, restrict access to public transport and air travel, limit access to public buildings and close restaurants, bars and other establishments.

Both Paris and Marseille - tourist cities visited by millions - had in recent days already made the wearing of face masks mandatory in busy public areas.

Earlier we reported how half a million Brits face a desperate dash to get home after France was kicked off the Government’s safe list.

Thousands were set to spark a “mini Dunkirk” as they prepare to evacuate  for Blighty amid a spike in coronavirus cases across holiday spots.

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.

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.

What we know so far:

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.

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"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.


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.


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.


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.

Eurotunnel boss warns Brit holidaymakers trains 'fully booked' after UK announces quarantine restrictions on travellers from France

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