France, Holland and Malta added to UK's quarantine list amid spike in coronavirus cases

On Monday Monday, 69 towns in western France imposed outdoor mask rules to slow the spread of coronavirus, but it was not enough to keep the country off the UK's quarantine list.

France and Holland have been added to the UK's list of countries from which returnees must quarantine for 14 days, the Transport Minister has announced.

The move came after Boris Johnson said ministers would be “absolutely ruthless” in deciding on whether to impose the self-isolation requirement.

Travellers arriving from Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba must also quarantine for 14 days if they arrive in the UK after 4am on Saturday, Grant Shapps revealed on Thursday.

He said: "This evening we're announcing there will now be quarantine for a number of other locations, including France, Holland and some others, and that's because we've absolutely worked so hard to keep our numbers down here.

"We can't afford to reimport those cases from elsewhere.

"He added: "We're announcing it now and it will be operational throughout the UK from 4am on Saturday morning."

The news that France is no longer considered a safe travel destination for Brits follows days of warnings about the country's rising coronavirus case rates.

Earlier Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said there is "evidence that across the European Union the number of [coronavirus] outbreaks is increasing".

  • France added to quarantine list, Grant Shapps says

As such, he said it was "important" for the UK to "show vigilance" by being ready to impose restrictions when necessary.

France joins Belgium, Andorra, the Bahamas, Luxembourg and Spain on the growing list of countries which have been removed from the UK's list of safe travel destinations.

The popular British holiday destinations were among dozens of destinations from which returnees, at the start of July, were exempt from quarantine upon arrival in the UK.

The decision to add France will cause dismay for thousands of British holidaymakers currently in the country.

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener explains new quarantine measures for those returning from France, Malta and other countries

It was made in response to the spread of the virus, with the latest 14-day cumulative figures showing 32.1 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.

The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.

The Foreign Office updated its advice to warn against all but essential travel to the country because of the coronavirus risk.

Transport secretary Jean-Baptiste Djebbari added that he had spoken to Mr Shapps about the decision.

He tweeted: “France regrets the British decision and will apply reciprocal measures in terms of transport.

“I told my counterpart Grant Shapps of our will to harmonise health protocols in order to ensure a high level of protection on both sides of the Channel.”

Before the announcement was made, Mr Johnson said: “We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners.

“I think everybody understands that.”

People wearing facemasks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus walk through Amsterdam. Credit: AP

Mr Johnson said the Government could not allow the UK’s 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 a very strict way,” he said during a visit to Belfast.

With Spain already on the quarantine list, it now means that holidaymakers returning to the UK from the two most popular overseas destinations must now isolate for 14 days.