Sold-out flights, and inflated travel fares meant many Britons missed the chance to return from France before the new 14 day self isolation rule came into force this morning.
Some had to leave family members behind as they could only afford a limited number of tickets home. Transport issues within France meant some people missed the last Eurostar to London, leaving them stuck in the country for one more night.
Among those was Alexis Walmsley, from Basingstoke, whose train from Avignon to Paris was delayed in Lyon. She says her disabled son ‘won’t understand quarantine’. She tweeted: ‘Now I don’t even know where we will sleep tonight.’
Out of the 500,000 holidaymakers in France, some 160,000 are thought to have tried to make it home on the 11th hour after Britain announced on Thursday that it was adding France, the Netherlands and other countries to its self-isolation list.
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Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the train service carrying vehicles through the Channel Tunnel, reported nearly 30% more vehicles than usual on Friday. It arranged an additional 22 departures for more than 30,000 passengers in 11,600 vehicles to try and cope with the surge in demand.
Others got creative in order to get back in time, including The Dunedin Consort, a musical ensemble from Scotland who chartered a fishing boat to sail to Britain. They Tweeted: ‘Au revoir France! As exits from concerts go, this one is quite unique. We’re sailing back to the UK on a fishing boat overnight to beat the quarantine.’
But still not everyone was lucky enough to make it back in time. Three French nationals who live together in London said they will have to isolate despite testing negative for coronavirus in the past week.
School worker Lou Le Mener, 23, student Aurelia Crea and IT worker Marine Coupe, 25, arrived back this evening after visiting family.
Speaking from London’s St Pancras station, Ms Crea said: ‘We wanted to come back yesterday but it was about 300 euros a ticket and the website was crashing.
‘Then you have a lot of people in the same place, crowded trying to come back. The Eurostar today was very quiet.
‘I feel it’s unfair for us to have to quarantine but we will do it. In Paris we have to wear masks almost everywhere, we already felt trapped there and now we are trapped again.’
Ms Coupe added: ‘It doesn’t really make sense. The UK was the last to quarantine and now they’re bringing in these hardcore measures.’
Meanwhile, Sanne Williams, who works in a care home, said she faces losing out on a week’s wages.
She said it was too expensive to change her ticket to Friday. She added: ‘I’m obviously annoyed. I was supposed to go back to work on the 21st but now I’ll be at home for another week without money.
‘Of course I will quarantine, they have all my details, passport, travel times.’
One mother said she made the difficult choice of leaving of her children behind with her husband to catch the last Eurostar train as she was due to start her new job.
She says she was worried her children may not be out of quarantine when the new school term begins.
She told Sky News: ‘This has completely ruined our summer. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I am so upset about this.’
Natalie Bunch, from London, who works in publishing, arrived in France late on Wednesday and debated whether to cut her seven-day trip short, but has decided to stay on.
She said: The almost comical part of this is the amount of people who rushed to return to UK to avoid quarantine but might be carrying the virus and therefore spread it with no ramifications.
‘Currently the rules say you’re allowed to get public transport to return home to quarantine, which is utterly ridiculous.
‘How many people could two of us come into contact with and possibly pass the virus to during that journey? Even if we wore masks and sanitised regularly?’
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