Last night, many people in France were frantically emptying the contents of their holiday home’s fridge into the bin and shoving luggage into the boot of the car. Others were rushing to the airport, while buying plane tickets online, or elbowing their way through Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar.
Government advice released at 10pm on Thursday set a countdown of 30 hours for people in France to travel back to the UK, or face a 14-day quarantine if they arrived back after the clock struck 4am GMT on Saturday.
But we, in France, are the lucky ones. On July 25, people in Spain woke up to the news that if they wanted to travel to the UK without quarantining, they’d have to do so by 11pm that same night.
Europe’s invisible boarders are suddenly glass sliding doors to be snuck through.
In an economy stretched tight, and still being unpicked at the seams, holiday-makers in France will lose money. This weekend, they’ve faced the unenviable choice of weighing much longed-for holiday time against 14 days of quarantine on their return in the UK.
The French tourism industry, already down €30-40 billion this summer, will also be hit hard for the foreseeable future. We will, at some point, have the ability to travel again. But who will have the confidence to?
Meanwhile families like mine, with members in Europe and the UK, find themselves separated in ways it was hard to believe possible a few months ago.
Europe’s invisible boarders are suddenly glass sliding doors to be snuck through, to see loved ones when timing and health measures allow.
I have a ticket for a two-week trip from Paris (where I live) to London (where my family lives) in September. I booked it a month ago, full of confidence that numbers showed France had beat back coronavirus.
As the UK government says, current figures show that’s not quite true. For the second day running, over 2,500 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in France in 24 hours. For the past seven days, the rate of infection...