After days of speculation, the government has removed France from its ‘travel corridors’ list. This means that from 4am on 15 August, all passengers arriving into the UK from France will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also updated its guidance on France and is now advising against all but essential travel to the country, including the island of Corsica.
Whether you’re on holiday in France at the moment, have a holiday booked later in the year or are considering your options on travelling to France, here’s all you need to know.
Will I have to self-isolate and what does this mean?
If you arrive in the UK from France after 4am on 15 August, you’ll have to self-isolate for two weeks. This is because it is no longer on the government’s ‘travel corridors’ list – the list of countries and territories you can travel from to England and not have to self-isolate.
This applies to both UK residents and visitors to the UK.
Self-isolating means not leaving the place where you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK.
You’ll need to complete a public health passenger locator form to present on your arrival into the UK (you can do this from 48 hours before you arrive) and then stay in the accommodation you declare on this for two weeks.
If you don’t do this, you could be fined £1,000 in England. And if you don’t provide accurate contact details or update these in the limited circumstances you need to move, you could be fined up to £3,200. Different fines apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You should not have any visitors, apart from in limited circumstances such as emergency assistance, and you should not leave your accommodation to go to work, school or visit public areas.
You should not go shopping and should order a delivery or ask friends or relatives to help. If you can’t do this, NHS Volunteer Responders may be able to help. Find out more here.
In England, you must only exercise in your home or garden, including walking your dog, which you will need to ask friends or family to help with.
If you’re staying in a hotel or guest house, you must stay away from others, so should avoid using shared areas such as bars or restaurants.
There are limited circumstances which allow you to leave your accommodation in England, such as for urgent medical assistance or to go to the funeral of a family member or someone you live with. You can see the full list of these circumstances and find out more about self-isolation here.
I’m on holiday in France now – what should I do?
The FCO is not advising those already in France to leave at this time and advises that travellers “follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.”
It says to contact your travel operator if you have questions about your return journey – but be aware that there may be delays due to a high volume of calls.
If you are returning on or after 15 August and have commitments such as work after your break that require you to leave your house, it’s worth talking to anyone who may be impacted by your self-isolation as soon as you can.
Will my holiday to France be cancelled – what are my rights if it is?
While the FCO is advising against all but essential travel, package holidays to France, including Corsica, should be cancelled by your travel company.
However, always wait until your travel operator cancels rather than cancelling yourself.
If your holiday is cancelled, you are legally entitled to a refund. You may be given other options too, such as travel vouchers, a change of holiday or a Refund Credit Note.
I booked flights and hotels separately – will I be entitled to a refund?
Many flights are likely to continue running and, unless yours is cancelled, you are not automatically entitled to a refund.
However, some airlines have introduced more flexible policies as a result of the uncertainty around travel at the moment, so, if you no longer wish to travel, check whether you can move your flight or cancel and claim a voucher.
With hotels and other accommodation, check the policy of your accommodation provider as you are not guaranteed to get a refund while it’s still open.
Can I claim for cancelling on my travel insurance?
If you aren’t entitled to a refund for elements of your travel, such as flights, hotels or car hire, you may be able to make a claim on your travel insurance.
However, although insurers have started to adapt to offer more cover for coronavirus claims, this is more likely if you bought your insurance and booked your holiday before mid-March, when coronavirus restrictions were put in place in the UK.
If you’re unsure, contact your insurer for advice.
What happens if I travel to France against FCO advice?
If you travel to France, or anywhere else that the FCO is advising against all but essential travel to, your travel insurance is likely to be invalid. This means, is something goes wrong, you’ll have to pay all of your own costs.
If you have an in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this will be valid until 31 December, when Britain comes to the end of the Brexit transition process. This gives you access to free or low-cost medical treatment on the same terms as a local.