France is to be the next country to have quarantine rules reintroduced by the UK Government, as the country suffers from a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases. The French ministry of health reported 1,397 new coronavirus infections since Monday. At a press conference earlier last week, the newly appointed Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that France had been heading in “the wrong direction” in the previous two weeks with 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago.
Redfield & Wilton Strategies latest GB poll reveals that two thirds (63%) of the UK public would approve of the Government re-imposing a quarantine on travellers arriving to the UK from France.
Those who voted for the Conservative party in 2019 are more likely to support the removal of the UK-France ‘air bridge’ than those who voted for Labour: roughly three quarters (73%) of Conservative voters would approve a removal of France from the UK’s “safe list” against 56% of Labour voters. Despite this difference, a majority of Labour voters would still support the reimposition of quarantine by UK Government on arrivals from France, indicating that such a decision would attract cross-party support. If the decision goes forward, those returning to the UK from France will have to go into a 14-day quarantine to prevent new infections on the island.
There is a clear disparity in the views of different age groups. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents above the age of 65 would approve the removal of the ‘air bridge’ against 57% of those between the ages of 18 to 24. The difference may be explained by the fact that younger age groups are more likely to travel abroad than older groups. However, it is important to note that this 57% still constitutes a clear majority of younger respondents who would support the Government if they made this decision.
Overall, a majority (57%) of respondents would cancel their holiday if they had booked for a destination which required them to quarantine on their return. A plurality (22%) answered that they would travel anyway, representing almost a third (32%) of those between the ages of 18 to 24.
Young people are less likely to cancel their holiday if they have to quarantine on their return than older respondents: only 44% of 18-24 year old answered that they would cancel their holiday if a quarantine was imposed, compared to 59% of those above the age of 65.
The decision could spell bad news for the French tourism industry and the wider French economy: France welcomes 17 million British nationals every year. Nevertheless, in the UK, the Government will receive considerable support amongst the British public as it goes forward with the decision to remove the cross-channel air bridge, particularly amongst Conservative and elderly voters, but also with a majority of 2019 Labour voters and a strong plurality of younger respondents.