Many travelers to England may skip quarantine as of Monday, but not those from France, where Beta is present.
British medical officials announced on Friday that fully vaccinated travelers arriving in England from France must continue to quarantine because of the threat posed by the Beta variant, though vaccinated travelers from other European nations on Britain’s medium-risk amber list will no longer have to quarantine as of Monday.
Monday is being celebrated as England’s “freedom day,” when almost all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted. The British decision angered many whose travel plans to and from France have been disrupted by the new restrictions.
Travelers from France — along with anyone who has traveled to France in the prior 10 days — must quarantine for five to 10 days in their own accommodation, and they will need a coronavirus test on Day 2 and Day 8.
This is one of the country’s first major actions related to the Beta variant, which was first identified in South Africa. Clinical trials show that vaccines offer less protection against Beta. Until now, Britain has been focused on the threat from the Delta variant, first identified in India, which is now dominant in Britain and France as well as the United States.
France has announced new vaccination requirements in its fight against Delta, but is continuing to open up to travelers. Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Saturday that unvaccinated travelers from Britain, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece would be allowed entry into France as of Sunday, if they produce negative results from a coronavirus test taken within the 24 hours prior to their arrival.
Travelers who are fully vaccinated with the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson will be able to enter without a negative test.
Among those whose travel plans have been disrupted by the new restrictions is Liliane (not Lilliame, as an earlier version of this item stated) Aubourg, a French citizen living in Britain. She has not seen her 62-year-old mother, who lives alone, in almost two years. Ms. Aubourg, 36, who is fully vaccinated, planned to travel to France with her husband, who is also vaccinated, in August.
“Waking up to the news yesterday night that actually there is a U-turn for France, it is just so disheartening,” said Ms. Aubourg, who has now canceled her trip. “We haven’t told our family yet. My mother is elderly, my husband’s parents are elderly. We just want to see our family.”
Juliet Walton, 50, a British citizen who lives in southwest France, is traveling to Britain on July 24 for her daughter’s 22nd birthday party. Now with the new restrictions, Ms. Walton will have to quarantine on her arrival.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the U.S.
- Vaccine rules. On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies have been increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places within areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. See where the C.D.C. guidance would apply, and where states have instituted their own mask policies. The battle over masks has become contentious in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for education staff. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-age children are opposed to mandated vaccines for students, but were more supportive of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff members who do not have their shots.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required of workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement does not begin until Sept. 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system will need to have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital workers must also get a vaccine or be subjected to weekly testing. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced that it would seek to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “no later” than the middle of September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
With “Brexit and a pandemic, it’s just an absolute nightmare,” Ms. Walton said. “It’s just so ill-thought out and unnecessary. I’ve had both my jabs. I was looking forward to getting some sort of normality.”
Callum Sowler, 35, who flew to the south of France on Tuesday to visit his fiancée’s family, will now have to quarantine with his fiancée and their son, who joined him on Friday for the summer holidays, when they return to England.
“It’s turned what was supposed to be a fun holiday into something that’s now caused us loss of sleep last night and stress this morning, because we really don’t know what to do for the best now,” Mr. Sowler said.
Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, a French member of the European Parliament and an oncologist, said, “I really don’t understand the decision,” adding that the Beta variant was “not an issue in mainland France,” but more so in Réunion Island, a French department about 4,000 miles from Europe, off the southeastern coast of Africa.
Some research has shown that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, the backbone of Britain’s inoculation campaign, has been less effective in preventing mild and moderate Beta cases, which Ms. Trillet-Lenoir said could be a motivation behind the British government’s decision to announce the new restrictions..