'Infuriating': British expats in France react to UK's quarantine decision

FILE: Travellers get off the first train into St Pancras International station in London, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2007.
FILE: Travellers get off the first train into St Pancras International station in London, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2007. Copyright ALASTAIR GRANT/AP
By Euronews
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The mandatory 10 day quarantine makes it almost impossible for British expats based in France to visit their families at home.


For the 148,000 British expatriates living in France, the UK's decision to lift its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers from all EU countries except France was hard to take.

The 10-day mandatory self-isolation makes it almost impossible for them to visit their families in the UK, especially for those who have a job in France and little holiday time.

Dorcas Vance, an entrepreneur and English teacher who moved to France 20 years ago, told Euronews she hadn't been able to see her England-based family in two years, including her elderly father who recently had a heart attack.

"I went there two years ago for my dad's 80th and then he had a heart attack on his 81st birthday. So I haven't seen my parents for two years and you know, they're getting older," she told Euronews.

British authorities waived on Wednesday their 10-day self-isolation requirement for travellers from amber countries — which include the US and EU member states — as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

But the measure, which comes into force on August 2, does not include France, which the UK has classed as "amber plus", citing the Beta variant as a concern

The UK is meanwhile on France's "orange" category, meaning that fully vaccinated people can travel to France without having to quarantine upon arrival.

'Getting used to cancelling'

"I'm getting used to cancelling now. I've cancelled about four times," Vance said.

"I keep on being optimistic," she went on. "I've booked for Christmas. I hope I can go for Christmas."

"Boris is just changing his mind very freely all the time. I understand that he doesn't want people coming in from France because there are high numbers but it doesn't make it any easier."

Elaine Storie, a British expat who has lived in France for 12 years, faced a similar situation.

The English teacher, based in Macon north of Lyon, told Euronews she hadn't seen her 85-year old Scotland-based mother for a year.

"It's a long time for her to be on her own," she told Euronews.

"It's impossible to get back to see her because of the quarantine. Obviously, I can't afford to miss my work. And the holidays that I can take, I can't afford to have 10 days that if I travelled across, I would have to be quarantined and be tested, etc." Storie explained.

"I've got two vaccinations so I don't see the reason why I should have to be quarantined when I arrive from France to Scotland," she insisted.

'Double standards'

But Storie said that what infuriated her the most was to see the packed stadiums during the European football championship earlier this month.

"My mother has passed a whole winter by herself. Mentally it's hard and she wants to come and see her granddaughter. She wants to live a little again and have something to look forward to.

"And then we turned on the television. Then you've got a football competition, which sees how many people at Wembley, all supporting football teams with no masks on-site, not any spacing between the seats.


"I mean, that just infuriates me that it's just one rule for some people and another rule for other people."

French expats also affected

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Channel, the sizable French community in the UK is facing similar hurdles.

"This pandemic and the constant travel rule changes have had a huge impact on the French community in the UK that, along with industry-leading companies from the travel and tourism sectors, fail to understand this last-minute decision from the UK Government," Olivier Boudard, who launched a petition earlier this month calling for France to be treated as an amber country, wrote.

His petition has gathered more than 6,300 signatures in a week.

Another petition launched since the latest announcement urges the government to allow fully-vaccinated people from France without quarantine, arguing: "This is separating families."


Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the quarantine decision for France would be reviewed "at the end of next week".

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