TRAVEL: A few days before Christmas, the possibility for the French settled in the United Kingdom to return to the national territory remains uncertain.
- France has suspended since Sunday midnight and for 48 hours all travel of people from the United Kingdom, after the appearance of a strain of the coronavirus considered very virulent.
- A “necessary” period according to the executive to allow a specific health protocol to be defined for nationals living across the Channel and to build “solutions” for return on the occasion of the end of the year celebrations.
- But for the thousands of French people living in the UK, this new restriction is causing anguish and anger, after a trying year.
“I know that it is restrictive and that it creates anxiety”. Invited on the LCI channel, a few hours after the announcement of the end of the link between France and the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, made a point of addressing the French residents on the other side of the Channel. After a year as trying as ours, the French citizens living in the United Kingdom received a new blow this weekend. A few days before the end of the year holidays, the country of Boris Johnson is facing a new strain of the coronavirus, even more, contagious than the one circulating until now.
To limit the risk of contamination, France and other European states announced on Sunday the suspension, for forty-eight hours, of all travel from this country . A “necessary time” to “clarify scientific information in full transparency”, “coordinate even better at European level” and “provide solutions to our nationals in the United Kingdom”, added this Monday Clément Beaune. What consequences does this suspension of travel have for French families living with our English neighbours? And how do they live with this umpteenth restriction?
” It’s very hard “
Pending new measures, it is anxiety and anger that dominates this Monday among our Internet users living across the Channel. “It’s very hard,” says Laure, a 31-year-old engineer. “I have to return to France on the morning of December 24, it has been 16 months since I saw my family. I took my plane tickets in July and I was looking forward to seeing my parents and my siblings again, ”she explains. A disappointment shared by Amina, 33, a French teacher living in Scotland: “I had planned to spend the end of year celebrations in Paris with my parents. It’s been almost a year since I saw them, and they miss my brothers and sisters and my children, ”she writes.
Like France, the country has suffered several epidemic waves and chained periods of containment and deconfinement since the appearance of the virus. “We postponed our visit several times. And there it is again for an indefinite period, ”continues Amina. Marie-Lou, a 26-year-old horse rider living in Epsom in south London, says she is “distraught and angry”. She denounces a “lack of compassion” on the part of the government: “We were not given any time to be able to organize. The ban on travel between England and France was decided on the spot, without warning, leaving us no chance ”.
A “terrible blow to morale”
At the age of 27, Thibaut, an engineer like Laure, has trouble “withstanding the situation”. He explains: “I have been living alone and working from home since mid-March. Seeing my family is one of the only sources of comfort (…) I dare not imagine celebrating Christmas alone, the blow to morale will be terrible ”, he testifies. To this feeling of loneliness is added a feeling of “frustration” specifies the expatriate: “All this could undoubtedly have been avoided if London had been placed at the maximum alert threshold as is the case at home (Birmingham), or if we had remained confined until December 15, ”he said.
Like him, Mickaël, 32, has just spent “9 months, almost isolated” in telework: “It’s difficult. I had booked my tickets to come to France from December 28 to January 5. But I hope that a decision will be taken to give us the possibility of travelling with a negative PCR test ”. A condition that could appear in the health protocol required by the countries of the European Union, but which nevertheless poses some difficulties, underline several Internet users.
Concerns about PCR testing
Olivier, a 46-year-old project manager, has been living in Bristol for more than three years. Tickets in the pocket for France, his family had to cross the Channel on Wednesday 23rd December to spend Christmas with his relatives. Wishing to anticipate the measures that could be announced in the coming days for French nationals, he set out “in search” of a PCR test. “The main difficulty is that in Great Britain these tests for personal convenience – a trip for example – cannot be done in NHS centers ( National Health Service, the national health service), explains- it, and we have to go through private laboratories which were already overwhelmed ”.
And the delays are such that “the requirement for PCR tests de facto condemns you to miss Christmas”, continues the forties. There is also a significant cost: “150 to 200 pounds on average per person”. A problem also highlighted by Juliette, 28, who lives on the Isle of Wight. “The PCR tests are not free and you have to wait for the results which sometimes take up to 72 hours”. And despite her research, the young woman has not managed to find an appointment on the island. Meeting in Brussels to try to define a common protocol to deal with this new strain of the coronavirus, EU states should communicate by Wednesday.