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Couple who paid nearly £1,000 to beat quarantine deadline are among thousands forced to flee France

Families were scrambling to flee France last night amid fears new quarantine rules will cause thousands of children to miss the start of the school year.

Pupils who do not return to the UK by Tuesday night will still be self-isolating at home when the majority of schools go back on September 2.

But with limited capacity on flights, ferries and the Eurotunnel, many will have no choice but to stay in France – or pay high prices for some of the remaining tickets.

In one instance, a British couple who paid £1,000 for business class Eurostar seats and a family who drove for 12 hours are the among thousands forced to flee France and get home before 4am tomorrow when the country is added to the UK quarantine list. 

The holidays of up to 500,000 Britons have been ruined by the government’s 11th hour move as they try to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days once they return to the UK.

Some tourists had less time to avoid quarantine after the Scottish and Welsh governments demanded the rules be introduced a day earlier. 

Meanwhile, France is likely to impose to impose tit-for-tat quarantine restrictions from Monday for people arriving from Britain, meaning British travellers will have to self-isolate on arrival there too.

Holidaymakers Stuart and Anna Buntine spent nearly £1,000 on the Eurostar get home from France on Friday. 

Mr Buntine, 58, said outside St Pancras: ‘We didn’t get our notification until this morning, where we were staying in Burgundy there wasn’t a lot of internet.

‘I went to bed last night thinking it was all OK, woke up at 7am to find we had to get back here pretty sharpish. 

‘We couldn’t get tickets, all the sites had crashed. We had to buy business class tickets back today so it’s cost nearly £1,000. It is what it is. 

‘It’s a bit of a b****r but we can’t do much about it can we?’

Mrs Buntine added: ‘We left here with our eyes knowing that it was a possibility, so we decided we’d take that risk.’

The couple, who have a farm in the Midlands and run a sports events company, said they were originally due back on Monday but needed to return sooner due to a work event within the quarantine window. 

The Office for National Statistics says 20 per cent of adults have abandoned plans for trips abroad. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an estimated 160,000 tried to return from France yesterday. 

Shapps sparked chaos last night when he announced the dramatic step to add France to the quarantine list, but suggested it would only apply to people who ‘come back from Sunday’.

The Department for Transport then clarified the restrictions would come into force tomorrow instead amid accusations that Nicola Sturgeon demanded quarantine was imposed on France tomorrow to ‘flex her muscles’.  

In more bad news for British holidaymakers, Greece could soon be added to the quarantine list, after a spike in its infection rate, with a record 235 cases recorded on August 12. Daily new cases in the country were in the 30s towards the end of July.  

Families returning to the UK from France or another blacklisted country after 4am today risk a £1,000 fine and a criminal record if they send their children to school when they are meant to be in a 14-day self-isolation.

Parents will not be fined by head teachers or have their children marked as officially absent if they are observing the quarantine.

But Home Office rules say returning travellers should not go to work or school – and officials have vowed rigorous enforcement.

It means teachers will be banned from going back to the classroom if they are still self-isolating when term begins.

The National Education Union recently demanded that teachers who are in quarantine should receive full holiday pay if they cannot work from home. Schools have been asked to make sure remote learning facilities are in place to help pupils who have to self-isolate in the first week of term.

It comes after Boris Johnson vowed to make the reopening of schools a ‘national priority’ following months of disruption.

Yesterday former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith criticised the Government’s handling of the French quarantine fiasco. He said: ‘I would have preferred it if this had been done in a more nuanced way.

‘Rather than slapping the quarantine across the whole country, it would have been better to do it in a phased way, with the most badly hit regions first. I am concerned many teachers will be affected by this decision at a time when they are needed back in schools.’  

 

Covid-19 cases in France rose by 2,846 yesterday, taking the seven-day average above 2,000 for the first time since April 20.

But critics have questioned the need for a blanket quarantine when there are huge differences in infection rates between regions.

The area including Paris has been hard hit, with more than 73,000 cases, but this is five times that of the region covering Provence and the Cote d’Azur.

Britain has also added restrictions to travellers from Monaco, Malta, Holland, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Aruba.

The Government now advises against all but essential travel to France and the other countries. It means travellers there are unlikely to be covered by travel insurance.

The move has ruined the holiday plans of an estimated 500,000 Britons in France, and travel bosses have warned of days of chaos.

Eurotunnel tickets for crossings this weekend and into next week were selling out fast last night, along with Eurostar trains out of Paris. Flights with British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet sold out within minutes of the announcement on Thursday night.

The cost of tickets for the few remaining seats on flights from Nice and Paris jumped ten-fold to £800 yesterday morning. Tickets for the Channel Tunnel sold out in hours as 12,000 people tried to move their bookings forward.

Eurostar and Brittany Ferries said most services were fully booked. Tickets on Eurostar were up by 30 per cent, meaning it would cost a family of four more than £800 to travel from Paris to London yesterday afternoon.

There are mounting fears Iceland, Austria and Poland could be added to the quarantine list next week, although insiders h ave hinted Portugal could be taken off the list.    

France is expected to impose Coronavirus quarantine measures for people arriving from Britain from Monday a government source in Paris indicated tonight.

It follows follows the UK insisting that anybody arriving from France from 4am on Saturday will have to spend two weeks self-isolating.

‘Reciprocal arrangements are common in these situations and these are likely within days,’ said the French government source.

France is the world’s most popular tourist destination, and the British are one of the biggest visitor groups, meaning the quarantine will have a devastating effect.

Regions such as Brittany, Normandy, the French Riviera and Paris itself are normally packed with Britons in August.

According to official estimates, some 160,000 Britons are currently trying to leave France before the Saturday deadline, however.

Clément Beaune, the French Transport Minister, said on Twitter that his government ‘regretted’ Britain’s decision to impose quarantine, and confirmed they would ‘reciprocate’ with similar measures.

Despite this, Mr Beaune said he was ‘hoping for a return to normal as soon as possible.’

The UK government shut down the ‘travel corridor’ to France after the republic suffered a spike of just under 14,000 cases in a week.

This jump included 2,669 new infections announced on Thursday, meaning France has suffered 21.0 cases per 100,000 people in seven days.

This is above the threshold of 20 identified by Grant Shapps, Britain’s Transport Minister, as the key to Britain’s quarantine rules.

French prime minister Jean Castex on Friday declared Paris and Marseille as high-risk Covid-19 zones, giving authorities more power to impose stricter control measures. 

This means that councils can shut down bars and restaurants, close roads to traffic, and restrict access to public transport.

Paris and Marseille, the two largest cities in France, have already made face masks compulsory in many public open spaces, as well as all closed one.

France has also reported that the pace of growth in the disease has been fastest among people aged 15 to 44..

Among the new infections were 50 gendarmes based in the south west city Tarbes who had returned with a group of 82 from a deployment in French Polynesia.

France has suffered 30,388 deaths linked to Coronavirus – a tally that is the worst in Europe after Britain and Italy.

One family-of-five told how they cut short their France holiday and drove 12 hours non-stop in a desperate bid to beat the quarantine deadline. 

Julia Burnett, 35, and Craig, 36, had already cut short their camping holiday fearing the worst and were just 60 miles from Calais when the announcement was made.

They drove yesterday for 12 hours from the South of France to Calais with their three children Rory, seven, Isabella, five and Finley, one. 

They were due to come back next Wednesday but yesterday decided to set off from Biarritz, after reading rumours about a potential quarantine.

The family, from Taunton in Somerset, managed to book onto a ferry less than an hour before the government announcement.

When they were 60 miles from Calais they discovered their gamble had paid off when they saw news of the rule change. They were in the queue for the ferry crossing feeling ‘tired but relieved’ this morning. 

Ms Burnett told the Mirror: ‘We’d been trying to book onto the Channel tunnel but we eventually booked on the ferry instead. 

‘Then I checked back on the tunnel website straight after the announcement and I was 5,310th in the queue – it was crazy. 

‘Quarantine would have really affected Craig’s work as he runs a dental services business and can’t do it from home.’ 

Travellers rushing to get back to the UK today face paying hundreds of pounds as air fares are now more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London – the cheapest BA tickets being sold for £452.

The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is £210, compared with £165 last Saturday, a rise of almost 30 per cent.  

The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services this morning is £260. All trains after midday are fully booked.

P&O Ferries has limited availability, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200. They also reported a surge in interest with more than 8,000 searches for tickets this morning.

Meanwhile private jet charter company PrivateFly said demand for flights out of countries being removed from the UK’s quarantine-exemption list has trebled since the announcement was made on Thursday night. 

Many of the thousands affected were cancelling hotels and paying up to £150 a time to change tickets on high-speed trains out of Paris on Friday morning.

‘We’ve got to get back, so paid £150 each for a new ticket,’ said Anna Possenniskie, a 45-year-old teacher from London.

Ms Possenniskie and her husband Sam Possenniskie, 44, who runs the Yestie Boys beer company, had been booked to return from a break next Tueday.

‘It’s a shame we’ve had to cut our holiday short, but we’ve accepted it,’ she said. ‘The government has to do what’s necessary. We haven’t lost a lot of money but I wish we could have stayed longer.’

The Possenniskies were queuing up for their train at the Gare du Nord, the Eurostar hub in Paris, where trains were largely sold out.

This meant desperate travellers queueing up in the Eurostar ticket office and trying to buy seats at the last minute.

Aimee Meek, 30, a London art director, said she had paid £80 to change her ticket, as well as wasting £200 on unused hotel rooms in the French capital over the weekend.

‘I’m glad I had time to change my ticket because I’ve got to go back to work,’ said Ms Meek.

‘At least it’s better than it was for those who got caught in Spain with only four hours’ notice before quarantine came in, but it’s still ridiculous and very frustrating, though.’

Jasmin and Alex Webb, newly-weds from Devon, spent two nights in Paris on their honeymoon before returning to Britain.

‘Luckily we were due to leave today anyway,’ said Mrs Webb, a 26-year-old finance officer, adding: ‘The quarantine won’t change anything.

‘The virus won’t stop at borders. I think you either ban travel altogether or leave people free to roam. There’s no need for all this travel.’

Mr Webb, 28, said: ‘I’m worried about the situation in Devon with all the people coming in on holiday and possibly spreading the virus..’

Charlotte Couture, a 27-year-old sales and marketing executive from Birmingham, said quarantine would have made getting back to work impossible.

‘It was very important for me to be able to get on a train today, and thankfully that has happened. Health is the priority, and we all have to be sensible. The situation could deteriorate in the weeks ahead.’

Valentine Hutchings, 28, and from London, paid £120 to change her Eurostar ticket: ‘I was booked for tomorrow but what can you do, you’ve got to go by the rules.’

Travellers returning to Britain from France today told of their scramble home to avoid having to quarantine. 

Student Yasmine Sellay, 24, from Wimbledon, South London, was among a packed Eurostar train that arrived at St Pancras station from Paris this morning. 

She said: ‘I wanted to get home before the restrictions are enforced. ‘I didn’t know that France had been added to the UK quarantine list until last night and as I don’t want to isolate for a fortnight I came home today. 

‘I’d been in Paris for a month and a half because it’s where I’m originally from and I was visiting family and friends.   

‘When I arrived in France at the end of June, I had to stay in with my relatives for more than a week and couldn’t go out.  

‘I found it really hard to do so I was keen not to have to do the same when I came back to London.  The Eurostar was full so I think many other people had the same idea as me.’  

Engineers Carolina Monteiro, 24, and Douglas Pagani, 29, who live in France, told PA of their relief at arriving in the UK for a 10-day campervan trip to the Lake District and Yorkshire – just before quarantine measures come into effect on Saturday morning.

Speaking outside St Pancras station, Mr Pagani said: ‘We’re very happy to have the correct ticket just in time. At first I was scared looking at all the information to make sure we could enter here, then we saw it was perfect.

‘It was a relief that we could meet our friends here.’

Ms Monteiro added: ‘We have had this trip planned for three or four months, so we’re lucky to be here just in time.’

Travellers in the south of France face a struggle getting back to the UK before the 4am Saturday quarantine deadline. 

Flight booking website Skyscanner suggested there were no direct flights from Biarritz to London.

The cheapest option it offered was to take one flight to Paris, another to Belfast and a third arriving at London Stansted shortly before midnight, at a total cost of £284.

The lowest priced ticket involving just two flights is £579 with Air France, changing in Paris.

Whichever mode of transport travellers use, they will need to move quickly as many services will be fully booked by Friday afternoon.   

He added that weekly changes to quarantine rules on a national level ‘have proven so disruptive to airlines and passengers’. 

Undeterred passengers at London St Pancras made their way onto the 10.24am Eurostar service to Paris, including lawyer John Strange, 60, from Reading.

He said he was going to the French capital for 10 days and it was possible for him to work from home on his return.

He said: ‘It’s not a disaster for me but it seems for many people it will be, particularly those with young families, it’s going to be catastrophic.

‘I’m sure many will have to cancel their plans and have to accept all that pain and cost that goes with it.’

A traveller who gave her name as Sonata K, a 39-year-old dentist, was due to head to Paris for four nights with her mother – but cancelled her plans after finding out about the quarantine measures at St Pancras on Friday morning.

She said: ‘It’s not worth it to go out and have to self isolate. With my work I can’t do the procedures from home.

‘We were too late to get the news, we’re just finding out here but it’s better than on the train.

‘We’re looking at going to Cardiff and checking trains now, but the weather is changing a bit.’

She added that for £30 they could change their Eurostar tickets to another day and said one hotel had charged them one night’s stay for late cancellation. 

Jack Birkbeck, 23, and George Raybould, 24, were travelling to France to spend five days in the commune of Bantanges, eastern France between Lyon and Dijon to celebrate Jack’s 24th birthday on Saturday with his parents.

The friends, who both work in retail from Maidstone, Kent, are flying out to Geneva with EasyJet today.

They went to sleep thinking they would not have to quarantine but woke up to the news they would have to self isolate for 14 days.

Despite considering cancelling the trip, they decided to go ahead with it due to the money already spent on the break.

Jack said: ‘I literally woke up at 6am to my mum texting me saying ‘are you still coming?’ as they’ve introduced a quarantine. I went to sleep thinking we were safe.

‘The last case where we are going was on July 27 so they’re going strong for the past few weeks. It’s probably even safer than Maidstone. 

‘If we had more time to think about it then maybe we would have cancelled going but we didn’t even have time to change our mind really.

‘I hope the government are doing their best and believe they’ve introduced this now in the best interests of everyone.

‘My boss will probably be angry at me having to isolate. But I’m going to spend quarantine doing work training to make up for it.’

George added: ‘It’s just our luck that the day we go they announce quarantine just hours before we jet off. 

‘As bad as it sounds, where we are going is super rural. It’s not exactly the epicentre of the French pandemic. We are not going out and socialising and will be self contained. 

‘Of course we’re still going to quarantine when we return home but I like to think the chances of us getting it are very low and if anything, we are more likely to give it to them. That would be the classic British thing to do.

‘I’ve only just come off furlough so I don’t think work will take it too well. I feel bad for my colleagues but theres not much I could have done at such short notice.’

A Heathrow spokesman said: ‘The UK needs a more sustainable long-term plan for the resumption of travel than quarantine roulette.  

‘Testing could provide an opportunity to safely reduce the length of quarantine in certain circumstances, protecting both the health and wealth of the nation as we pave a path towards a new normal. 

‘As ever, our teams will be on hand to support passengers impacted by the travel restrictions but we urge Government to work with us to trial a solution which could help to provide more certainty.’ 

One couple, who are getting married in The Netherlands next month, have already had relatives cancel after the UK government announced a 14-day quarantine will come into effect from tomorrow for those returning from France, Malta and Holland.

Other passengers told of late night research into their travel insurance to ensure their holidays could viably go ahead.

Elske Koelman, 29 and her fiancé Bertie Chambers, 33, are travelling to The Netherlands this morning to finalise plans for their wedding in Leiden next month. 

They originally considered a UK wedding but in December decided to tie the knot at a town hall in the city centre of Elske’s hometown in Leiden.

Elske said: ‘The wedding will be in Leiden which is where I was born and my family are still there.

‘I haven’t seen them for a couple of months so we’ve been looking forward to it, but this makes it all a bit more tricky with the quarantine.

‘Initially we were planning to get married next month and it was going to be 130 guests, but we scaled it down to 20 guests with half of those from the UK.

The couple, both management consultant living in the UK, had to reduce their wedding guest list from 130 to 20 due to the pandemic.

But the new quarantine rule now means it is likely only half of those invited will be able to attend, with Bertie’s auntie and cousins unable to travel due to the quarantine.

He said: ‘This morning we have had calls from my side of the family cancelling: so far my brother and my aunt cannot make it.

‘My mum and dad are retired so luckily they can make it.

‘We are going to the Netherlands today to finalise all the details. We have to speak to the venue, the florist and the restaurant especially because of the quarantine now.’

The couple, who both work in international development and met in Kenya five years ago, have been planning their wedding since they got engaged last year. 

‘But now we’re expecting it will be smaller than 20 people now that this quarantine is in place.

‘The wedding will be at the municipal building with a lunch in the town centre. Leiden is a beautiful place, small with lots of canals and boat tours.’

The couple say the wedding will still go ahead and plan to work from home once they travel home from the Netherlands before returning for their wedding next month.

Bertie added: ‘We can’t do anything about it, it is out of our hands.

‘We can’t cancel the wedding and our plans should still go ahead.

‘You can’t put your life on hold. We’re lucky we can both work from home so it’s worthwhile to get married even if we have to quarantine when we get back. ‘ 

One British couple drove for nine hours through the night to avoid quarantine.

They had been enjoying a week in their motor home in the Dordogne when the news broke on Thursday night – so they quickly forked out £238 on a ferry from Calais to Dover and hit the road.

The husband and wife, who asked not to be named, left at midnight.

They had been due to come home on Sunday – and they blasted Prime Minister Boris Johnson after arriving in Kent at midday.

The 55-year-old woman, a doctors surgery admin worker from Norfolk, said: ‘We had to do it to avoid quarantine. We just picked up all our stuff, chucked it in the motor home 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. It wouldn’t be ideal at all.

‘I understand why Boris has done this, but to give us a deadline of 4am on Saturday is nowhere near enough notice.

‘He has to bear in mind that a lot of the people who got the news late last night wouldn’t have been able to just get up and leave like us.

‘Some would’ve been families with young kids who were asleep. Then it’s a real rush to get things ready the next day.’

The mother-of-five added: ‘Boris and the Government really should have thought this through more.’

Marcus Keys, 49, had been on a week-long holiday in Limoges with his two children and wife.

They were due back today – and he was glad to get home.

Housing association development worker Marcus, from Birmingham, said: ‘It’s definitely a relief to avoid the quarantine – we didn’t want to get caught up in that.’    

IT manager Lewis Kitson, 37, told the Sun: ‘This is just a complete shambles. It’s chaos. They’re making it up as they go along now.

‘They can’t justify this. It’s guess work. I’m not bothered about quarantine if I’m too late. I’ve just come through France on a road trip. I’m trying to book to get home.

‘They’ll have to put me in prison before I comply with quarantine.

‘The whole thing is ridiculous. It’s still not enough time. I’m really trying to get a ferry booked. It’s a disgrace.’ 

Jamie Harrison and wife Bernie, both 43, were taking their three children JJ, nine, Luke, six, and Nelly, three, on a 10-day camping holiday to Nice, France.

The family from Catford, south east London had originally planned to go to Spain but switched to France after quarantine rules were introduced there.

Nutritional therapist Bernie said: ‘We kind of thought it was going to come after what happened with Spain. I was mentally prepared. It was short notice there so I expected it – it’s out of our control.

‘And we made sure we had two weeks before the kids go back to school in case quarantine was brought in.

‘There’s not much difference between isolation and what we have been doing during lockdown anyway.

‘We’re well prepared about what we need to do to protect our immune system and protect ourselves from viruses and pathogens.

‘It’s up to every individual to protect their immunity and not rely on the government and the NHS.’

Husband Jamie, who works in property, said: ‘Of course I didn’t really want it to happen but I could see it coming. We’re still going to enjoy ourselves and have a great trip.

‘There’s never going to be a good time to introduce quarantine and if it’s got to be done then so be it. But I don’t understand why they’ve picked Saturday to implement it.

‘I feel like if you test negative then you should be allowed to finish self isolating. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.’

Eldest son JJ added: ‘I think quarantine is bad and that’s why I wanted to stay at home instead of going on holiday. It means I can’t play with my friends for two weeks.’  

Families travelling to France and Amsterdam from London via Eurostar told of last minute changes to their trips after new quarantine restrictions were announced late last night. 

Robert Lawrence, 65, from Islington north London, was also catching the 11am Eurostar today on an interrail to visit friends in the Netherlands and Germany.

The retired broadcast worker said: ‘Obviously it is a risk but I have probably taken more of a risk going around the supermarket than I am doing this.

‘If you are bending down to the shelves in busy shops, it is probably more of a risk than this trip with socially distanced walks and alfresco meals.  

‘My main concern was travel insurance and health cover.

‘My policy said it does not cover travel if the Foreign Commonwealth Office our restrictions in place before I took out the policy or before I booked it.

‘But I had booked it all already so it seems I am still covered and I will just quarantine when I’m back.

‘The initial destination is Amsterdam via Eurostar then onto The Hague and the Cologne via train to visit friends. Then I’ll return home by air.

‘I wasn’t planning to travel until next year but my friends invited me.

‘I don’t regret it because we were aware restrictions might change. It was just an informed risk and we decided to go ahead because the new restrictions were only announced last night so it was very very short notice for us.

‘Everything had already been booked and we knew about the advice so we are relatively happy.

‘I can quarantine when I return and I have a local supermarket that deliver food and a friend who has offered to drop things to me if needed.’

Eurostar passengers arriving in London from Paris today fear they may have to quarantine on their return to France if Emmanuel Macron introduces ‘tit for tat’ travel restrictions. 

British expat Stephen Fillery, 72, returned to his home of 15 years in Dordogne, France today.

He flew out to Bordeaux at 1.30pm with EasyJet after renovating his flat by the River Thames in Staines, Surrey for his next tenant. 

The retired Metropolitan Police officer of 30 years said: ‘I’m really pleased that this overnight news about isolation from the France and the Netherlands came when it did. 

‘If it came earlier, I would have had to spend two weeks staying in the flat and couldn’t have renovated it and done all the running around.

‘If they had imposed quarantine a week ago I would not have come over so I’m relieved for my own personal benefit.

‘I think it is probably highly necessary to bring in this self isolation. If the statistics have suddenly gone up then they need to make a firm and quick decision and a lot of people must have been expecting it.

‘If France are going to bring in a reciprocal measure then it should be for medical scientific reasons and not just political push back at the UK.’

One man flying to Nice, France to see his brother for 10 days said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ at the government’s ‘short notice’ to implement quarantine.

The 40-year-old electrician from Surrey, who did not want to give his name, said: ‘I was gutted to see them bring it in just hours before I flew out.

‘If I knew a week beforehand then I would have cancelled. They should have given more warning.

‘But if rates are increasing then it is reasonable for them to bring it in to stop people bringing it back here.

‘I was prepared for it and thought it might come in while I’m out there but I thought I would have had more time to make a decision.

‘I’m a social guy who likes to go out to see my friends and play football but I will now have to stay indoors for two weeks.

‘It is what it is. I will find other ways to occupy myself, rest up, so some work at home and watch Netflix.’ 

Relatives wearing face masks eagerly waited for their loved ones to arrive from France in the arrivals hall at London St Pancras station. 

Retired teacher Judith Hobbs, 71, flung her arms around her son and grandchildren when they arrived on one of the last Eurostar’s from Paris before the new quarantine rules are implemented at 4am on Saturday.

The grandmother, from Oxfordshire, said: ‘I am waiting to meet my son and my two grandchildren. They live just outside of Paris.

‘We are really lucky as they were always booked onto this train arriving at 12.30pm today so we have avoided the quarantine.

‘But we are still taking a bit of a risk as we do not know what restrictions will be in place in France when they return home in a few weeks.

‘Emmanuel Macron has suggested the same measures could be implemented there, like a tit for tat.

‘So in that case, when we drive them home we might have to quarantine in France and then quarantine again when we return to the UK.’    

Mother-of-two Leanne Smith and her husband Paul, both 39, paid £3,000 on a Eurocamp holiday at a site near Paris. They were due to start the week-long trip with their young children today – but decided to drive back to Manchester after the quarantine was announced.

Leanne told the Sun: ‘We were in bed in our hotel last night 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. That would’ve just been a nightmare.’

Car-carrying Channel Tunnel trains are fully booked until Saturday.

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle said in a statement: ‘Due to the recent Government announcement, our shuttles are now fully booked until tomorrow morning.

‘There is no more ticket availability and we are not selling tickets at check-in.

‘Please do not arrive at the terminal unless you have a ticket valid for travel today.’

Private jet charter company PrivateFly said demand for flights out of countries being removed from the UK’s quarantine-exemption list has trebled since the announcement was made on Thursday night. 

Chief executive Adam Twidell said: ‘Following the changes to the UK’s quarantine list overnight, we’ve received a surge in demand for private jet travel out of affected countries, with three times the average number of enquiries and bookings for flights to the UK from France, the Netherlands and Malta, before 4am on Saturday morning.

‘We’ve also had a number of inquiries from clients booked to travel to these destinations in the coming weeks to change their travel plans in order to avoid quarantine zones. 

‘We can arrange flights at very short notice with the flexibility to change route at the last minute, however availability is limited as the spike in demand coincides with what is already the peak summer season for private leisure travel.’ 

Explaining the quarantine decision on BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Shapps said: ‘The reality is that in all of the things to do with coronavirus, there always has had to be a cut-off and we’ve seen this throughout, haven’t we, in the way that rules have had to be implemented and, so, ‘if we can do this, why can’t we do that?’, that’s always going to be the case. 

‘What we have to do is provide clear guidance and, in this case, clear law in order to require people to quarantine.   

‘I just want to stress it is very important that people do quarantine. Everybody returning to the UK, no matter where from, doesn’t matter whether you’re in a travel corridor country or a quarantine country, must at this stage fill in a passenger locator form.

‘That is the law and you may well find that people call up to check where you are, and you’ll be breaking the law if you were not quarantining, if that was a requirement for the country you’d come from.’

Mr Shapps said it will not be necessary for people to quarantine on their return to the UK from France if they do so before Saturday at 4am.

The Transport Secretary told BBC Breakfast an estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to look to return to the UK from France.

He added: ‘It’s a practical approach as well which has enabled all fours parts of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England – to implement the same time at 4am where there are no flights in the air at least tomorrow.

‘But, look, I accept your point, you can always argue one way or the other. We have to make a decision on it and we have to do that based on science and medicine, and that’s what we’ve done, we’ve taken the advice and implemented on that basis.’

Asked if he would encourage those returning to the UK if they should self-isolate, even if they fall outside of the official quarantine deadline, Mr Shapps said: ‘That’s not legally required. 

‘But what I would say to everybody is look out for the signs, everyone knows what we’re talking about – the persistent cough, the high temperature, the change in taste or smell, so everyone should look out for those signs.

‘But, no, it’s not necessary to quarantine unless you’re coming back after 4am on Saturday and those are the rules.

‘I think the truth of this is, as everyone watching realises, there’s no perfect way to deal with coronavirus.

‘Unless you were going to have a sliding scale that sort of said if you stay another 24 hours the you must quarantine for X amount of time, another 36 hours for Y amount of time, you know, clearly there has to be a cut-off somewhere.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity centre have cleared our approach to this.’

The boss of Channel Tunnel operator has Getlink warned many travellers may not be able to get back to the UK – and told them not to turn up at terminals without a booking as trains are ‘already pretty much fully booked’. 

After a week of speculation ministers acted on a worsening coronavirus situation across the Channel, ministers ordered travellers returning from the popular destination to isolate for 14 days. The move came after Boris Johnson said the UK would be ‘ruthless’ when it came to travel quarantine even with its ‘closest and dearest friends’. 

Mr Keefe said there was ‘some possibility of adding additional trains in the off-peak periods’ but would-be travellers must check online before heading to the terminal.

‘The important thing is that people understand that it’s not going to be easy to get back and they have to be sensible about this and not get themselves into difficulties,’ he said.  

France recorded 2,669 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, up from 2,524 on Wednesday. It is a record figure for the nation since it came out of lockdown.  

The review of the rules saw the Netherlands, Monaco and Malta added to the quarantine list – and Portugal remains on it, along with Spain.

The Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba in the Caribbean have also lost their places.

 ‘We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners. I think everybody understands that,’ Mr Johnson told reporters as he visited Northern Ireland yesterday. 

John Keefe, Getlink’s director of public affairs, told BBC’s Newsnight: ‘We just haven’t got the space to take everybody who might suddenly want to come up to the coast. So what we are saying to people is amend your booking online, make sure there’s space before you travel to the terminal.’ 

Passengers returning from France scrambled to book earlier Eurostar trains, forking out hundreds of pounds extra and cutting their holidays short to avoid having to quarantine under new UK travel rules.

Carriages arriving at London St Pancras today were packed, with passengers unable to socially distance as most chairs were taken in the rush to return home.

Panicked Brits filled the platform at London St Pancras station this morning, wearing face masks and pulling their suitcases through the crowds in the mad rush to get home.

Vikesh, 27, paid over the odds to change his Eurostar ticket to return home today after only arriving in Paris last night to visit his girlfriend.

He was devastated when he received a call from his boss advising him to return home to escape quarantine rules.

He said: ‘I arrived in Paris at 6pm last night to see my girlfriend who lives there. I was meant to come home on Monday.

‘It is the absolute worst thing that could have happened. I am not going to see her now for so long.

‘I could have not gone, but getting there at 6pm and then being told to come home by 4am Saturday is awful.

‘The train was so overbooked and people were trying to space themselves out.

‘I’ve taken the Eurostar a few times and at the moment you are not meant to sit next to another person.

‘But I think people were sitting in each other’s seats. I sat next to someone, but I had no choice and others stood for the whole two hours.

‘I heard the news at 10.30pm last night and tried to ignore it, but I got a text from my boss saying you’d better come home.

‘I woke up at 7.30am and there was only one train left for today. I paid an extra £110 on top of my original tickets.

‘I also had to pay for a flight home just in case I got stuck there.

‘I’ve not been working from home this whole time so the quarantine would affect me.

‘I don’t know when we’ll next see each other, I guess we will have to find a country it is safe for both of us to go to.’

Teachers Dilip Chakraborti, 39, and Camille Brignolle, 41, from north London, also changed their tickets at the last minute to avoid being in quarantine when schools reopen.

The pair only had 24 hours in Paris where they arrived yesterday to visit Camille’s family, and were angered to discover through Twitter of the imminent new travel restrictions.

Camille, a secondary school teacher, said: ‘We were due back on Tuesday and we only arrived yesterday, so we spent literally 24 hours in Paris.

‘We went to visit my dad. He lives just outside of Paris and I haven’t seen him since Christmas.

‘It was tricky trying to change our ticket to avoid the quarantine. Initially a ticket popped up this afternoon but it went away.

‘It was supposed to be an exchange, but we had to pay an extra £224 on top of our original tickets between the two of us.

‘Having just 24 hours with my dad is not great.

‘I am annoyed at the fact the announcement was at 11pm of an evening on Twitter.

‘I am not impressed with the government with the way they have dealt with it and the manner of it.

‘Why not tell us during the day? Why tell us at 11pm on Twitter.’

She added: ‘Because I am a teacher, I wanted to make sure I would not have any problems so we waited for a few weeks before booking to wait and see what was going on with the restrictions.’

Dilip, a primary school teacher, said: ‘We rebooked and got an earlier train today.

‘So we will have to wait and see if we can get any money back.

‘If we had stayed, it would have been touch and go for me having to quarantine before the schools open at the beginning of September.

‘But Camille’s school opens a week early so we have to come back.’ 

‘We will be looking at the data a bit later on this afternoon – looking exactly where France and other countries are getting to.

‘We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation. 

‘Everybody understands that in a pandemic you don’t allow our population to be reinfected or the disease to come back in.

‘That is why the quarantine measures are very important and we have to apply them in very sftrict way.’

Speculation has been mounting about quarantine exemptions being scrapped as infections rise across much of Europe. 

Hundreds of thousands of Britons are either on holiday in France or planning to go there, but yesterday it recorded more than 2,500 cases – a record since lockdown was eased.

The country appears to be perilously close to the yardstick of 20 cases per 100,000 population in a seven-day period. 

But ministers are believed to be prepared to hold off on restrictions when changes are announced, with the situation kept under close observation. 

The quarantine list already includes Spain and Portugal. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not believed to have signed off on the adjustments yet. 

Travellers are expected to be given around 30 hours notice of any changes coming into force, so they can make new arrangements if required.  

The Netherlands (23.1 per 100,000), Gibraltar (35.6), Monaco (38.2), Malta (46.7), San Marino (53.0), the Faroe Islands (198.5), Turks and Caicos (278.9) and Aruba (547.9) all have higher rates of new cases per 100,000 than France.

Those on the list with a slightly lower rate than France are Denmark (15.3 per 100,000), Iceland (14.7), the Czech Republic (14.0), Switzerland (13.3) and Poland (12.7). 

All the above have now overtaken Portugal’s rate of 12.4 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, but despite this, Portugal remains on the list of countries from which all arrivals to the UK, including those returning from holiday, must quarantine for two weeks.

Downing Street reminded potential holidaymakers this week that ‘there is no risk free way of travelling overseas’ with Boris Johnson adding that he ‘would not hesitate’ to bring in travel restrictions for other countries. 

The latest data on coronavirus cases on foreign soil is being analysed by the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JCB), which reports to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

Britons in France and other countries could be forced to make a dash home or risk being forced to quarantine on their return to the UK, should the government decide to remove more countries from the list.    

On Tuesday, the UK updated its travel ‘green list’, but did not take Portugal off the quarantine list, in a blow to the country’s economy that benefits greatly from tourism from the UK.

The UK Government was warned that cases in Portugal had not fallen fast enough to be able to safely add the country to the ‘green list’.  

On Monday, France reported the first significant rise in the number of coronavirus patients in hospital since the lockdown was lifted, although it fell again on Tuesday before rising two days on the bounce. 

Earlier this week France’s prime minister told his citizens to ‘pull themselves together’ amid a fresh surge in coronavirus cases. 

Jean Castex said the public was becoming careless and raised the spectre of a second lockdown after a rise of more than 10,000 cases in the last week. 

‘If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,’ Castex said on a visit to an intensive care ward in the South of France. 

Some parts of France have tightened their mask rules despite the summer heatwave, with police now set to ramp up checks on face coverings – while neighbouring Belgium yesterday made masks compulsory in all public spaces including outdoors.

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