French official says Britain’s quarantine rules for travelers are discriminatory.


The French government accused Britain on Thursday of enforcing discriminatory new rules that will lift quarantine requirements for most vaccinated travelers — but not for those arriving from France.

The British authorities announced on Wednesday that, starting in August, a quarantine would no longer be required for travelers from the United States or from most of the European Union who had been vaccinated with shots authorized by either American or European drug regulators. Travelers will still need a negative coronavirus test taken shortly before the trip, and another upon arrival.

The new rules do not apply to travelers from France, who will still have to isolate for up to 10 days after reaching Britain.

“It’s excessive and frankly it’s incomprehensible, from a health standpoint,” Clément Beaune, the French junior minister for European affairs, told the broadcaster LCI.

“Sometimes in France, we were in a difficult health situation, and we understood — even if we regretted it — that some of our neighbors took hard decisions toward us,” Mr. Beaune said. But in this case, he added, “it is a decision that isn’t based on science and is discriminatory.”

The British authorities have said that the presence of the Beta variant of the coronavirus in France justified the decision. But Mr. Beaune said that fewer than 5 percent of new cases in France were attributable to that variant and that most of those were not in metropolitan France but in the country’s overseas territories, like Réunion and Martinique, where the pandemic has worsened recently, forcing the authorities there to declare states of emergency or new lockdowns.

Also, Mr. Beaune noted, there is much less travel to Britain from the French overseas territories than there is from the mainland.

Nonetheless, the virus has flared up again recently across France, even though about half of the population has been fully vaccinated. The average number of daily infections is about 20,000, and hospital admissions are also rising.

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