PM warns Britons he’ll be ‘ruthless’ over quarantine list – as France decision imminent


Boris Johnson has said his government will be “absolutely ruthless” in deciding whether travellers from France must quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK.

The prime minister said officials would be looking at the latest data later on Thursday amid mounting concern about the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The prospect France could be removed from the list of countries exempt from the quarantine requirements will cause dismay to thousands of British holidaymakers currently in the country.

It will also come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.

Mr Johnson however insisted that it was essential to prevent more coronavirus cases being brought into Britain from abroad.

People wearing protective masks walks near the Louvre Museum
People wearing protective masks walks near the Louvre Museum in France

Speaking while on a visit to Northern Ireland, he continued: “We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners.

“I think everybody understands that.

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“We will be looking at the data a bit later on this afternoon, looking exactly where France and other countries are getting to.

“We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation.

“Everybody understands that in a pandemic you don’t allow our population to be reinfected or the disease to come back in.

“That is why the quarantine measures are very important and we have to apply them in a very strict way.”

Mr Johnson, right, also met his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin
Mr Johnson, right, also met his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin

Britain has imposed a 14-day quarantine period for arrivals from countries including Spain and Belgium, responding to rising infections and fears of a second wave of the virus, having initially declared them safe for travel.

The French health ministry reported 2,524 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday – the highest since its lockdown restrictions were first imposed.

This prompted speculation it could be the next European country added to Britain’s list – a move that would affect the large number of UK tourists travelling there during school holidays.

For British holidaymakers, France is the second most-visited country behind first-choice destination Spain.

Almost 13 million Britons travelled to France in 2017, data from Statista showed.

Britain usually welcomes about 3.5 million visitors from France each year according to the same data, making France the second biggest market for tourists coming into the UK behind the United States.

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Mr Johnson also met his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin in Belfast today

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The leaders discussed the importance of working together as neighbours to defeat coronavirus, including through close collaboration between Ireland, the UK government and the Northern Irish Executive.”

Mr Johnson also told Mr Martin that he was determined to reach a trade deal with the European Union, but would not bend on the issue of level playing-field commitments.

The prime minister also defended the system for deciding A-levels results after almost 40% of marks were downgraded in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the A-level results announced in England as 'robust and reliable'

PM defends A-level results as ‘robust’

It came after exams were cancelled to due to coronavirus.

Asked if he has confidence in the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, the prime minister said: “Of course I do, but I think this is a robust system and it’s one that is dependable for employers.”

He added more children from disadvantaged backgrounds will go to university “than ever before… as a result of the grades they’ve got today”.

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