A woman from Blackpool whose daughter and grandchildren live in the French Alps is having to put their family reunion on hold after the UK said travellers to France must quarantine for 10 days on their return to Britain.
Debbie Wainwright, a receptionist at Vets4Pets in Warbreck, said she has waited a year to visit her family in Chamonix, a ski resort at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps.
She had hoped to make the 14-hour drive to spend some quality time with her daughter Suzie, 32 and her two grandchildren, Harley, 10 and Izzy, 8.
But today, Debbie was dealt a cruel blow when the UK government announced that those returning to England and Wales from France will still have to quarantine for 10 days.
Left to right: Debbie with her granddaughter Izzy, son-in-law Stuart, grandson Harley and daughter Suzie skiing in Chamonix in the French Alps. Pic: Debbie Wainwright
She said the new quarantine requirement has made it ‘impossible’ for her go to France because she wouldn’t be able to book an extra 10 days off work on her return.
The new restriction came as a shock because from Monday (July 19), adults who have been double jabbed in the UK will not need to isolate for 10 days when returning from amber list countries.
But the government said the easing would not apply to France due to “persistent” cases of the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.
It said the decision to keep quarantine in place for those arriving from France is due to concerns vaccines may not work as well against the Beta variant
Debbie and her granddaughter Izzy enjoying the slopes at the base of Mont Blanc last year. Debbie hasn’t been able to see her family since due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Pic: Debbie Wainwright
But Debbie, who has had both jabs, says the move is ‘ludicrous’ because the Beta variant reportedly only accounts for around 10% of new infections in France itself.
But high numbers of Beta cases in the remote French overseas territory of Reunion – 5,500 miles away near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean – are inflating France’s case figures.
“It’s just crazy,” says Debbie, who has eagerly saved her holiday leave for a long-awaited reunion with daughter Suzie and her two grandchildren.
“Enough is enough. They tell us if we are double vaccinated we can travel to amber countries without quarantine, so I’ve isolated from work for 10 days due to a Covid outbreak.
“I’ve used my annual leave to do this because I didn’t want to risk being pinged and having to self-isolate before we set off for France.
“I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me during these lockdowns. I’ve followed all the rules and I’ve had both jabs and I’ve had my heart set on finally seeing Suzie and the kids after nearly a year.
“It’s heartbreaking. We had to cancel our visit earlier this year because of the travel restrictions, but I really thought this time we were going to make it.
“If we were just going on holiday, then I could accept it more. But it’s not just a holiday. It’s being with family that we haven’t seen in nearly 12 months. We miss those kids so much.
“And it’s not like we were going to be on a plane or at an airport with hundreds of other people. We were taking the tunnel and driving all the way.”
Debbie said the government’s last-minute announcement means she is unlikely to see her daughter and grandchildren until later this year.
She said: “I work at a small vets practice and the other girls have young children and they need to take some time off this summer. So I won’t be able to reschedule until after the school holidays now. It just seems wrong the way they mess with people like this, especially when they have people flying into England from all over Europe for the football.
“And it’s bizarre that they have singled out France when most of these Beta cases are thousands of miles away on an French island in the Indian Ocean!”