Quarantine: Macron ally hits out at new UK policy amid coronavirus pandemic

Quarantine: Macron ally hits out at new UK policy amid coronavirus pandemic

A senior member of France’s ruling party, En Marche!, has criticised Boris Johnson’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic and, in particular, the UK’s new quarantine policy.

From 8 June, almost all arrivals at British airports, ferry ports and international rail terminals will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Bruno Bonnell, a close ally of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, told the BBC’s Today programme: “Europe should be as open as possible – even though we have Brexit happening.

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“It’s a disappointment that the UK is excluding itself from Europe with this decision.

“I’ve been discussing Mr Johnson’s policy for a long time now and I’ve discovered that it’s always a ‘blame it on someone else’ attitude.”

On 10 May, just after the prime minister announced quarantine would be introduced, Downing Street indicated that France might be exempt from the self-isolation policy – a suggestion later retracted.

On 22 May, the home secretary, Priti Patel, announced an unprecedented 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. The French embassy in London quickly tweeted: “France will reciprocally ask travellers arriving from the UK to go into #quarantine.”

The embassy said: “All those travelling from the UK, whatever their nationality, will be asked to place themselves in quarantine on their arrival in France, as soon as the quarantine system in the UK comes into force.”

Mr Bonnell criticised the British response to the health crisis, saying: “The problem with the UK is that the treatment of coronavirus has been a swing from ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal’ to a full panic.

“I understand that Mr Johnson underestimated at first the difficulty of this virus.”

“By excluding yourself, by closing your territory and imposing this, I don’t think that’s the right way to address this economic crisis.”

Announcing the quarantine on Friday, the home secretary said: “Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases, triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease.

“We will be guided by the science, and the health of the public and the country will always come first, which is why we are implementing these restrictions at the border now.”

Labour supported Ms Patel’s announcement.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, described quarantine as “overdue but welcome”, saying on Friday: “I welcome the fact that they’re actually doing something about this today.”

The policy can be easily circumvented with the so-called “Dublin dodge”, exploiting the exemption for travellers inbound from the Republic of Ireland.

However, touching Irish soil at Dublin airport en route to the UK involves taking either one or two extra flights, increasing the number of interactions with passengers making essential journeys.

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