HALF a million Brits face a desperate dash to get home after France was last night kicked off the Government’s safe list.
Thousands were set to spark a “mini Dunkirk” as they prepare to evacuate for Blighty amid a spike in coronavirus cases across holiday spots.
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The Government’s decision gives half a million Brits currently in France less than a day to get back if they want to avoid going into quarantine.
But with flights fully booked and the Channel Tunnel packed, many will miss the deadline of 4am tomorrow.
Families with children now risk missing the first week of school as 14-day self-isolation measures are re-imposed.
Another 500,000 Brits due to travel to France in the coming weeks will have their holiday plans thrown into chaos.
What we know so far:
The Netherlands and Malta were also added to the quarantine list last night.
Boris Johnson said yesterday that he had to be “absolutely ruthless” over imposing the travel rules, “even with our closest and dearest friends and partners”
The PM added: “I think everybody understands that.
“We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation.
“Everybody understands that in a pandemic you don’t allow our population to be re-infected or the disease to come back in.
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“That is why the quarantine measures are very important and we have to apply them in a very strict way.”
Seats on a British Airways flight from Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport to Heathrow on Friday quadrupled in price – from £100 to £407 – after the Government’s announcement.
Channel Tunnel operator Getlink said extra services may be laid on but warned many passengers face missing out on the quarantine deadline.
John Keefe, Getlink’s director of public affairs, told BBC Newsnight the trains were “already pretty much fully booked” today.
The Sun can reveal that concerned medics intervened to warn the PM that France’s numbers were starting to spiral out of control.
Ministers had hoped cases would flatten so they would not have to remove it from the “green list” — countries where people do not have to self-isolate upon return.
But France recorded 2,669 new Covid-19 cases yesterday — a record outside of lockdown.
The infection rate over 14 days rose to 32.1 per 100,000.
Anyone found breaching the quarantine rules faces a £1,000 fine.
The PM risks a row with France’s president Emmanuel Macron, who was on holiday yesterday in the South of France.
Downing Street also fears tit-for-tat quarantine measures will be imposed by France on any Brit tourists arriving there next week.
Restrictions have been imposed on 20 of the largest French cities.
Paris, Toulouse, Lille and Biarritz are among those ordering people to wear masks in outdoor areas.
Travel experts warned that any quarantine decision on France — Brits’ second-most popular holiday destination — will be another blow to an industry reeling from Covid.
Paul Charles, of consultancy The PC Agency, said: “No one in the travel sector wants France to be added to the quarantine list.
“It is such a vital market to keep open.
He added: “The Government needs to be ruthless on providing the world’s best testing regime rather than the economically- damaging quarantine policy.”
Monaco and Caribbean destinations Aruba and the Turks and Caicos were also booted off the green list, meaning people returning from those places from tomorrow will also need to self-isolate for 14 days.
But Gibraltar was reprieved. Brits heading home from France last night gave their reaction.
Robert Chmielewski, 33, from Basingstoke, Hants, was on a UK-bound ferry after visiting pals.
He said: “I knew quarantine was coming. Some announcements have been chaos so I thought I should head home.
“It’s a bit of luck.”
Ruth Thompson, 35, of Bristol, said: “I had to get out.
“Cases had been creeping up for a few days. It became too much of a risk.
Roger Slight, 50, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, was going the other way but said he hopes he won’t be affected because he is just travelling through France in a camper van.
On Wednesday there were 1,009 new cases of coronavirus in Britain — less than half the total in France.
Prof Tim Spector, at King’s College London, said: “It’s encouraging to see numbers coming down slightly, and that isolated outbreaks in the North appear to be well contained so far.
“This is further confirmation that we aren’t at the beginning of a second wave and, rather, still trying to end the first.
“The figures also suggest that the outbreaks in countries such as Belgium, France and Spain aren’t having an effect here in the UK yet.
“And people flocking to beaches and parks doesn’t seem to be having the predicted negative impact.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, announcing the new travel rules last night, added to the chaos by getting the deadline day wrong — saying it was Sunday instead of tomorrow.
The Sun understands that Downing Street initially intended it to be Sunday, but the Scottish and Welsh governments pressed for tomorrow.
Employers cannot claim back statutory sick pay, and have no obligation to pay wages to those in quarantine, although many do.
Brits with no hope of getting back before the changes will be able to claim Universal Credit if they are not paid during their self-isolation.
However there are calls from backbench Tory MPs for the Government to pay the wages of tourists if they are caught out by rule changes while already away.
The Foreign Office will advise against all “non-essential” travel to France — but it will mean those due to head there on holiday will be able to claim their cash back.