U.I to Require Travelers From France to Quarantine Over Beta Variant Fears

U.I to Require Travelers From France to Quarantine Over Beta Variant Fears

U.I to Require Travelers From France to Quarantine Over Beta Variant Fears

U.I to Require Travelers From France to Quarantine Over Beta Variant Fears

British medical officials announced Friday that fully vaccinated travelers returning to England from France must continue to quarantine because of the threat posed by the Beta variant.

Travelers arriving from France must quarantine for five to 10 days, at home or elsewhere, the British health ministry said.

Beginning on Monday, vaccinated travelers from other European nations that Britain had placed on its medium-risk amber list no longer have to quarantine. Most virus-related restrictions in England will be lifted, allowing pubs and restaurants to operate at full capacity and nightclubs to open their doors. Curbs on the number of people who can meet indoors, generally limited to six, will also be removed.

“With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants,” Health Minister Sajid Javid said in a statement.

While attention has been focused on the threat from the Delta variant, which is now dominant in Britain and France as well as the United States, scientists are also concerned about the Beta variant because clinical trials of vaccines are showing that they offer less protection against it. The Beta variant was first identified in South Africa in December.

The presence of Beta in France remains relatively low, according to GISAID, an international open source database; it accounts for 3.4 percent of new cases over the past four weeks.

Some research has shown that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, the backbone of Britain’s inoculation campaign, has been less effective in preventing mild and moderate Beta cases. In February, South Africa halted use of the vaccine over those concerns.

In France, concerns that the Delta variant, which accounts for about half of the country’s new cases, could unleash a fourth wave of the virus prompted President Emmanuel Macron this week to announce new vaccination requirements. They include mandatory inoculations for health care workers and proof of immunization or a recent negative test to enter restaurants and cultural venues.

Mr. Macron’s announcement came just three days after nightclubs reopened for the first time in 16 months, which many believed had signaled the completion of France’s protracted efforts to emerge from the pandemic. But the new measures dashed hopes of a return to a prepandemic normal and of a smooth summer vacation season.

British travelers, after enduring a miserable winter and a four-month national lockdown, are finding it difficult to visit some of their favorite summer destinations. In June, British tourists had to scramble to leave Portugal ahead of a quarantine deadline, after London changed travel rules over concerns about the Delta variant.

“The U.K. is entrenching itself as an outlier in its confused approach to travel. This, in turn, is destroying its own travel sector and the thousands of jobs that rely on it,” Willie Walsh, director-general of the International Air Transport Association, said in an interview with Reuters.

Graham McLeod, from Bolton in northwest England, said that the government’s messaging was “inconsistent, irregular, unclear and frankly unworkable.” In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. McLeod, who is staying at his vacation home on France’s Atlantic coast, added: “We struggle to understand the sudden desire to introduce quarantine for returnees from France and cannot help feel this has far more to do with politics and much less to do with science.”


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