Coronavirus: race to get home – Holidays in ruins as France added to quarantine list | UK | News (Reports)

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France has been declared a major Covid threat (Image: Getty)

Around 500,000 Britons faced a scramble to cross the Channel before 4am this morning when new rules forcing them to quarantine for 14 days came into force. The news sparked a stampede to ferry terminals, the Eurostar, Channel Tunnel and airports but operators were accused of fleecing passengers by ramping up prices. The price of a British Airways seat on a flight from Paris to London was 584 percent higher yesterday than today.

Many holidaymakers resorted to private jets to get them home.

Charter companies reported a huge spike in demand hours after the Government imposed restrictions.

One operator, PrivateFly, said bookings had trebled.

In a potential blow for the UK’s already beleaguered tourism industry, French authorities yesterday warned they would hit back and implement tit-for-tat measures.

The country’s secretary of state for European affairs Clement Beaune said it was a “British decision which we regret and which will lead to reciprocal measures”.

Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said: “The burden of this decision disproportionally falls on holidaymakers – thousands of whom are likely to be left significantly out of pocket because their airline will refuse to refund them. Unlike tour operators, airlines now routinely ignore Foreign Office travel warnings and refuse refunds because, they argue, the flight is still operating.”

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France was stripped of its safe status after reporting a sharp rise in coronavirus infections and immediately retaliated, saying it would bring in reciprocal measures effectively killing the prospects of those still looking to make the most of the last few weeks of the summer break.

The rule change, which also applies to Corsica, Monaco, Holland, and Malta, dealt a fresh blow to tourists, airlines, and tour operators.

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Many tourists were forced to fork out hundreds of pounds to upgrade or change tickets without warning.

British Airways was yesterday charging £452 for a direct flight from Paris to Heathrow.

The same journey today could be made for just £66.

Tickets for Eurotunnel shot up to £260 with the operator later forced to issue a warning to those racing to the terminal in Calais that “there is no more ticket availability, and we are not selling tickets at check-in”.

The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London was £210 compared to today’s fare of £165.

Fire brigade administering covid tests

Fire brigade administering covid tests (Image: Getty)

Moments after Thursday’s late night announcement one couple cut short their motorhome holiday in the Dordogne, drove nine hours through the night and forked out £238 for a ferry crossing from Calais to Dover.

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The husband and wife, who asked not to be named, said: “We had to do it to avoid quarantine. We just picked up all our stuff, chucked it in the motorhome and drove.

“We’re gutted because we were loving our break over there, but I just couldn’t afford to have to go into quarantine.”

Leanne and Paul Smith paid £3,000 for a Eurocamp holiday in France and were due to start the week-long trip with their two young children yesterday, but decided to head back to Manchester after driving six hours to catch the ferry at Dover.

Mrs Smith, 39, said: “We were in bed in our hotel just waiting for the news to break. We knew it was going to be announced but we didn’t want to risk losing all our money.We’re gutted.”

Q&A

Q: Are my consumer rights affected because of COVID-19?

A: No, certainly not. It’s important for the public to remember that the UK’s consumer laws still apply in full, even during this ongoing crisis.

Q: Can I visit France/Holland/Malta now?

A: No, you should not travel to any of the countries which have joined Spain and Portugal on the government advice list.

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Q: What if I go anyway?

A: This is unwise. Going against the new FCO advice will almost certainly invalidate your travel insurance policy and, if you have a medical problem for example, you will not be covered and could incur tens of thousands of pounds in fees.

Q: Is my insurance valid if I’m already in those countries?

A: Yes, it should be fine. The Association of British Insurers has said that if you were already on holiday when the FCO advice changed, your insurance is likely to cover you.

Q: Who is exempt from the UK 14-day quarantine rules?

A: Some key workers are exempt. Other arrivals must give an address where they will self-isolate or face a £100 fine.

Q: Do I need to come home early?

A: No, the Government says you can complete your holiday, following the advice of the local public health authority, then quarantine.

Q: I have a hotel or villa booked for the affected countries. What do I do?

A: This is a more complicated. You can cancel but how much it will cost you depends on the terms and conditions of the party you booked through.

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