France said Thursday it did not understand why it was exempt from a new rule that allows fully vaccinated European Union citizens to enter England without having to quarantine.
Starting next week, travelers who have been fully injected with a vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or the European Medicines Agency will be able to travel from any country on the UK government’s “orange” traffic light list without having to self-isolate at home for 10 days, the British government said on Wednesday. Arrivals from France are the only exception.
“This decision discriminates against the French,” said French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune.
“It’s excessive and makes no sense in terms of health policy,” he told the LCI TV channel, adding that “it has no scientific basis”.
The UK singled out France over government concerns about the “continued presence” of the beta variant, which is believed to be more resistant to vaccines.
But French officials say most of the cases have come from the overseas island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Microbiologist provides analysis of UK decision to quarantine French travelers
Britain will assess the status of travelers from France at the end of next week. French officials have complained about British travel restrictions on France since a last-minute decision to keep them on after July 19.
A lawmaker from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party called Wednesday’s decision “absurd”.
“Quarantine for the fully vaccinated from Lille but not from Brussels; Paris but not Miami; Annecy but not Geneva; Montpellier, but not Barcelona,” Alexandre Holroyd, who also includes French people living in Britain, said on Twitter.
“Vaccines work: give those who are protected from #covid their freedom back.”
Beaune said he hoped the UK would reconsider its decision, but that France is not planning retaliation “for now”.
Beaune also said he regretted that travelers from the EU were still unable to enter the United States, even though American tourists can easily enter EU countries as long as they are vaccinated or have a negative Covid test.
“We should have put up our sleeves for reciprocity as a trump card at European level,” he said. “Maybe Europe in general should have been tougher in the negotiations.”
France reported just under 28,000 new Covid cases for the past 24 hours and 40 new deaths from the virus on Wednesday.
A total of 111,768 people have died from Covid-19 in France, according to health authorities.
( Jowharwith AFP and REUTERS)