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Speaking to Sky News, Grant Shapps said the UK had no choice but to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France from Saturday in order to protect public health domestically from a further spread of coronavirus. “It’s a dynamic situation, and I don’t think that anybody would want us to do anything other than protect public health and public safety,” Mr Shapps said.
“That does mean where we see countries breach a certain level of cases, then we have no real choice but to act,” he added.
Asked weather testing at the airport upon arrival to the UK could replace quarantine measures, Mr Shapps replied: “Testing on return is something that we’ve always said we’d keep a very close eye behind the science on those things.
“Testing on return isn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds because if you test someone who is asymptomatic, in other words they don’t think they’ve got anything but they may in fact have it on day one on their return, we’d probably only capture a very small percentage, scientists suggest perhaps only 7 percent, of actual cases.
“Now, clearly you need a system there is more accurate than that before you can say to people you’ve now been tested and you don’t need to quarantine.”
Mr Shapps said it is important that all travellers returning to the UK fill in a passenger locator form.
The Transport Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “The reality is that in all of the things to do with coronavirus, there always has had to be a cut-off and we’ve seen this throughout, haven’t we, in the way that rules have had to be implemented and, so, ‘if we can do this, why can’t we do that?’, that’s always going to be the case.
“What we have to do is provide clear guidance and, in this case, clear law in order to require people to quarantine.
“I just want to stress it is very important that people do quarantine. Everybody returning to the UK, no matter where from, doesn’t matter whether you’re in a travel corridor country or a quarantine country, must at this stage fill in a passenger locator form.
“That is the law and you may well find that people call up to check where you are, and you’ll be breaking the law if you were not quarantining, if that was a requirement for the country you’d come from.”
Travellers trying to return from France on Friday to avoid the quarantine restrictions face paying hundreds of pounds.
British Airways is charging £452 for the cheapest tickets to fly direct from Paris to London Heathrow.
The same journey on Saturday can be made with the airline for just £66.
The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is £210, compared with £165 on Saturday.
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The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services on Friday is £260.
This is £60 more expensive than journeys taken on Saturday.
P&O Ferries has limited availability, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200.
Travellers in the south of France face a struggle getting back to the UK before the 4am Saturday quarantine deadline.
Many direct flights to the UK on Friday are sold out.
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