The spread of a dangerous new COVID variant in England is hampering Europe’s plans to reopen for summer travel, as three countries have placed severe restrictions on British travelers.
France just imposed a ban on all non-essential visitors from the UK, effective May 31. Those UK travelers who are allowed into the country must provide valid reason for their visit. They must also spend seven days in quarantine, present a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Those restrictions mirror the ones Germany put in place for UK tourists. Austria has also taken steps to restrict UK visitors by banning all direct flights into the country from the UK.
The spread of the so-called Indian COVID variant is the reason for the heightened cautiousness. Cases related to that variant in Great Britain have jumped in the past week.
Summer travel is viewed as crucial for the recovery of the British travel industry. France is a hugely popular destination for UK residents looking for a summer getaway. But France is on the UK’s “amber list” of countries, meaning that anyone entering Great Britain from there must quarantine. Given France’s new quarantine rules, the idea of two weeks of quarantine could force people to re-think vacation plans.
Officials in the travel sector are optimistic that France’s quarantine requirements could be rescinded before the end of June.
Spain is one country not following the lead of its European neighbors. It reopened its borders to British tourists this week. The UK is on Spain’s “safe travel” list and Brits are even exempt from having to show proof of vaccination or even a negative COVID test. Spain is the most-visited country by British travelers, with more than 18 million visitors in 2019.