Many British holidaymakers have opted to remain in France after missing the deadline to return home ahead of new quarantine rules, amid signs Europe is suffering a second wave of coronavirus.
Tens of thousands of Britons scrambled to make it back across the Channel on Friday, with anyone entering the UK from France after 4am on Saturday required to self-isolate for 14 days.
And as a number of governments in Europe imposed new restrictions on people crossing their borders from certain neighbouring countries, fears are growing that the continent’s second coronavirus wave is under way.
After a sharp growth in infections in France and Spain this week, Germany announced on Saturday it had seen its biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases in more than three months.
And after the desperate rush to make it back in time to avoid new quarantine measures overnight, Sky News’ Europe correspondent Michelle Clifford described Calais as “incredibly quiet” on Saturday.
Eurotunnel bosses said it carried nearly 30% more vehicles from France to the UK on Friday than forecast. A total of 22 extra departures were laid on, carrying more than 30,000 passengers in 11,600 vehicles, it said.
While some people in Calais complained of much higher prices on planes, trains and ferries, others were “remarkably philosophical” about the British government’s decision and understood why it had been taken, Clifford said.
However, some travellers questioned why the measure needed to apply to the whole of France and could not be implemented on a regional basis.
The Chocher family told Sky News they were sticking to their original plan and would head back to the UK next week.
Omar Chocher is British and his wife Stephanie is French and – having missed Saturday’s 4am deadline – they will remain with her parents in Calais.
Her father, Dominique Machart, lamented the likely effects of the new measure – describing it as as “brutal decision”.
“There are a lot of towns, particularly along the coast that survive on a lot of British tourism and so the French economy is going to take a hit,” he told Sky News.
Eve Hart, from Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester, should have been heading to Carcassonne in southwest France with her family on Monday – and they are now going to the Lake District instead.
Ms Hart said the fact they did not travel to France before the restriction was introduced was “probably a good thing”, adding: “We kind of knew it was coming, but it was pretty gutting.”
Peter Norris managed to get on one of the last flights on Friday night out of Nice, in the south of France, saying another two weeks of quarantine would have been “incredibly inconvenient”.
“It’s not like during lockdown, where you can go for a run, go to the shops, come back,” he said.
“None of that, we have to stay in, for two weeks.”
With many Britons cancelling trips to France planned for September, businesses running campsites in Brittany, wine-tasting tours in the Loire Valley or mountain treks in the Alps are also expected to suffer.
Laurent Duc, president of the French hotel branch of the UMIH (Union of hotel trades and industries), predicted the impact of British tourists’ absence would be “enormous”.
“They are our biggest customers,” he told Le Parisien, adding that hopes of many British people visiting in September would now “go by the wayside”.
“We will have sectoral closures that do not bode well for tourism, because a hotel can remain open but without bars and restaurants, it is no longer of interest,” he said.
The French government has suggested it will impose reciprocal measures, a move that is set to further hobble travel and tourism between the two countries.
Boris Johnson‘s government insists it had to make the decision in light of a 66% spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in France in the past week.
The Netherlands, Malta, Monaco and the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Turks & Caicos have also been added to the UK’s quarantine list for the same reason.
In the UK, another 1,012 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus were announced on Saturday – the fifth day in a row there have been more than 1,000 new infections.
Concerns around a second spike of cases in France continue to grow, with officials there reporting 2,846 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Friday – bringing the total for the week to over 12,900.
Paris extended the areas of the city where pedestrians will have to wear masks from Saturday morning after health officials said COVID-19 was “active” in the French capital and the Mediterranean city of Marseille.
It comes after Spain, the most popular summer holiday destination for British tourists, was taken off the quarantine exempt list last month.
And speaking on Saturday, Germany’s health minister described party holidays as “irresponsible”.
He made the remarks while defending a decision to declare nearly all of Spain – including the tourist island of Mallorca – a coronavirus risk region following a surge in cases there.
“I know how much the Germans love Spain. But unfortunately the infection rates there are rising sharply, too sharply,” Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“Whoever goes to Spain despite the warning should protect themselves and others while on holiday. Party holidays are irresponsible in this pandemic.”
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