Sitting in limbo

by Chris Bertram on August 4, 2021

I’m in the UK now, having spent the last (lovely) six weeks in France, an EU member-state with a much more functional government than we have. When we left for France in mid-June, it was on the UK government’s “amber list” and had just started admitting visitors from the UK with proof of full vaccination and a negative COVID test. To get such a test in the UK we had to pay £80 to a private provider. We also had to pay for additional travel insurance to travel to a country that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travel to, the advice having rendered our existing travel insurance inapplicable. All went swimmingly on the journey out apart from a 30-second hiccup when a French border guard thought a different set of rules applied to us, requiring urgent reasons for travel, but a colleague set him right.

Our plan had been to stay in France until the UK government moved it to an easier category not requiring quarantine. But the opposite happened. Ostensibly because of a surge in the Beta variant in France, the UK moved the country to an enhanced “amber plus” category, requiring 10 day quarantine even for the fully vaccinated. This measure against France was quite inexplicable, since there were other European countries with higher incidences of Beta, and becauce the French cases were actually overwhelmingly on French islands in the Indian Ocean. Perhaps there were other, more political, reasons behind the change, or perhaps the British government is bad at geography but couldn’t lose face by backing down once the error had been pointed out? Who knows? Rumour has it that France will be taken out of “amber plus” this week, and that the fully-vaccinated will be allowed quarantine-free admission to the UK from France this week, as visitors from the US and most of the EU are. That’s no good to us. (And note this is at a moment when nearly all internal restrictions have been lifted in the UK.)
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