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Holidaymakers in France have been warned they will be “breaking the law” if they fail to quarantine when they return home.
The government announced late last night that anyone arriving in the UK after 4am on Saturday will be required to spend 14 days in self-isolation due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases in France.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said people who decided to take a holiday in France would have done so knowing there was a “significant risk” quarantine rules could be reimposed.
“You may well find that people call up to check where you are, and you’ll be breaking the law if you were not quarantining,” he told BBC Breakfast on Friday morning.
An estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to look to return to the UK from France before the 4am deadline.
The conditions will also apply to travellers returning to the UK from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba.
“I think the truth of this is, as everyone watching realises, there’s no perfect way to deal with coronavirus,” Shapps said,
“Unless you were going to have a sliding scale that sort of said if you stay another 24 hours the you must quarantine for X amount of time, another 36 hours for Y amount of time, you know, clearly there has to be a cut-off somewhere.”
The move, which applies throughout the UK, comes after Boris Johnson promised to be “absolutely ruthless” in decisions about imposing quarantine restrictions on countries.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England detected a significant change in Covid-19 risk in all six destinations.
Department for Transport officials said that data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported cases and a 52% increase in weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in Covid-19.
The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.
Meanwhile France’s secretary of state for European affairs said the UK decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” across the Channel.
Clement Beaune tweeted: “A British decision which we regret and which will lead to reciprocal measures, all in hoping for a return for normal as soon as possible.”
Channel Tunnel operator Getlink warned that many travellers may not be able to get back to the UK.
John Keefe, Getlink’s director of public affairs, told BBC’s Newsnight the trains were “already pretty much fully booked” on Friday.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.