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.
The Beta variant accounts for 3.4 percent of new cases in France over the past four weeks, according to GISAID, an international open-source database.
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.
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..