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UK facing EU backlash over quarantine plans

By Trevor Marshallsea, PA

The UK is reportedly facing a backlash from European nations over its planned quarantine on visitors entering the country.

France, Germany, Greece and Spain will place restrictions on British visitors entering their countries as they reopen from lockdowns unless the UK scraps its quarantine or its coronavirus infection rates decrease, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is calling on EU member states to lift all border checks within the bloc by the end of June, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Euronews.

French tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said his country would impose a 14-day quarantine on UK visitors if Britain proceeds with its quarantine plan on Monday according to the Daily Telegraph, although he added France plans to open its borders to other EU nations on June 15.

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said he would be “strongly advising” against travel to Britain due to its quarantine – just as his country lifts its travel restrictions for 30 other European nationalities from June 15.

His Greek counterpart Haris Theoharis was quoted as saying as long as Britain’s coronavirus rate remained comparatively high, travellers from most UK airports faced mandatory tests for Covid-19 and quarantine of seven days even if they were found to be clear of the virus.

And Spain, while ruling out “tit-for-tat” quarantine measures, said the right of entry would partly depend on a country’s “epidemiological situation”.

“We’re in touch with British authorities and tour operators regarding two elements that need to be resolved,” Spain’s foreign minister Reyes Maroto was quoted as saying in the Telegraph.

“One is the possible quarantine that the British government has announced. We know that there are pressures from the sector and that it could be taken off the agenda – but what’s really limiting movement right now are the restrictions from the Foreign Office.”

Spain is proposing to lift restrictions for travellers from Portugal and France from June 22 – but not for holidaymakers from the UK or any other country.

The European countries’ moves are likely to fuel a growing backbench and industry backlash over the Government’s quarantine, which from Monday will require all international arrivals, including returning Britons, to self-isolate for 14 days.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, told the Telegraph: “At just the moment the industry could start moving again, we are about to shut them down and other countries are going to retaliate.”

EU governments are attempting to coordinate how and when to reopen their borders, with member states’ home affairs ministers to discuss the topic in a meeting on Friday.

“I think we’re coming very close to a situation where we should lift all the internal border restrictions and border checks,” Ms Johansson told Euronews.