LONDON

The British government on Friday said British travelers should not be surprised by its new quarantine rules, as France has pledged reciprocal action.

Yesterday the government announced that France will be taken off the UK’s list of coronavirus travel corridors starting early Saturday, meaning those returning to Britain will have to quarantine for two weeks.

“Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba from our list of coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted late last night, saying people arriving from these destinations “will need to self-isolate for 14 days.”

“I think given what’s happened this summer, given what’s already happened in places like Spain and the vast amount of coverage about concerns in France and elsewhere, no one will be entirely surprised,” Shapps told Sky News.

He added that Britain has “worked so hard to ensure that we’re keeping our numbers down here, and we can’t afford to reimport those cases from elsewhere.”

“We’ve got to a point with France in particular, and these other countries, where if we didn’t announce it now, we would know that the infection rate was already too high and we were not doing anything about it,” he said.

France reacted negatively to the UK decision, and said it would reciprocate, but has not given any further details.

Clement Beaune, France’s junior minister for European affairs, called the move “a British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity,” but said he hoped things “will return to normal as soon as possible.”

British daily The Sun reported that some half a million Britons in France would try to come back home before the decision kicks in the wee hours Saturday.

Grant urged people to come back in a calm and orderly fashion.

“The advice from all the travel operators is very clear: to contact them in advance. Don’t just turn up,” he said. “Because you’ll almost certainly be disappointed and it will just create queues, which no one wants to see.”

While on a trip to Northern Ireland yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We have got to be absolutely ruthless about this, even with our closest and dearest friends and partners. I think everybody understands that.”

“We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation. Everybody understands that in a pandemic, you don’t allow our population to be reinfected or the disease to come back in.”

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