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'Ridiculous', travellers dismayed by UK quarantine measures for France

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Travellers about to board a train from Paris to London on the day quarantine rules in Britain were due to lapse were upset on Monday (19 July) by a last-minute decision to keep them, calling it "ridiculous," "cruel" and "incoherent", write Emilie Delwarde, Sudip Kar-Gupta, John Irish and Ingrid Melander, Reuters.

Anyone arriving from France will have to quarantine at home or in other accommodation for five to 10 days, the government said on Friday (16 July), even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Read more.

The fact that England scrapped most coronavirus restrictions on Monday made it even more bitter for those about to check in on the Eurostar at Paris' Gare du Nord station. Read more.

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"It's incoherent and ... frustrating," said Vivien Saulais, a 30-year-old Frenchman on his way back to Britain, where he lives, after visiting his family.

"I am forced to do a 10-day quarantine while the British government lifts all the restrictions and is going for a policy of herd immunity."

Passengers wait on socially distanced chairs at Heathrow Airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID19) pandemic in London, Britain July 7, 2021.    REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Passengers wait on socially distanced chairs at Heathrow Airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID19) pandemic in London, Britain July 7, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Britain is reporting many more COVID-19 cases than France due to the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India, but has few cases of the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa. The government said it was keeping quarantine rules for travellers from France because of the presence of the Beta variant there.

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Britain has the seventh highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, 128,708, and is forecast to soon have more new infections each day than it did at the height of a second wave of the virus earlier this year. On Sunday there were 48,161 new cases.

But, outstripping European peers, 87% of Britain's adult population has had one vaccination dose and more than 68% have had two doses. Deaths, at around 40 per day, are a fraction of a peak of above 1,800 in January.

"It's totally ridiculous because the Beta variant in France is so low," said Francis Beart, a 70-year-old Briton who had travelled to France to see his partner but had cut short his visit to allow time for quarantine. "It's a bit cruel."

French authorities have said the bulk of cases of the Beta variant come from the overseas territories of La Reunion and Mayotte, rather than mainland France, where it is not widespread.

"We don't think the United Kingdom's decisions are totally based on scientific foundations. We find them excessive," France's junior European affairs minister Clement Beaune told BFM TV.

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Commission approves €1.8 million Latvian scheme to support cattle farmers affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €1.8 million Latvian scheme to support farmers active in the cattle-breeding sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The measure aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that the beneficiaries are facing and at addressing part of the losses they incurred due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Latvian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions of the Temporary Framework.

In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €225,000 per beneficiary; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64541 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission approves €500,000 Portuguese scheme to further support the passenger transport sector in Azores in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €500,000 Portuguese scheme to further support the passenger transport sector in the Region of the Azores in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. It follows another Portuguese scheme to support the passenger transport sector in Azores that the Commission approved on 4 June 2021 (SA.63010). Under the new scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The measure will be open to collective passenger transport companies of all sizes active in the Azores. The purpose of the measure is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing and to address losses incurred over 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus.

The Commission found that the Portuguese scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64599 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission authorizes French aid scheme of €3 billion to support, through loans and equity investments, companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic

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The European Commission has cleared, under EU state aid rules, France's plans to set up a € 3 billion fund that will invest through debt instruments and equity and hybrid instruments in companies affected by the pandemic. The measure was authorized under the Temporary State Aid Framework. The scheme will be implemented through a fund, titled 'Transition Fund for Businesses Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic', with a budget of € 3bn.

Under this scheme, support will take the form of (i) subordinated or participating loans; and (ii) recapitalization measures, in particular hybrid capital instruments and non-voting preferred shares. The measure is open to companies established in France and present in all sectors (except the financial sector), which were viable before the coronavirus pandemic and which have demonstrated the long-term viability of their economic model. Between 50 and 100 companies are expected to benefit from this scheme. The Commission considered that the measures complied with the conditions set out in the temporary framework.

The Commission concluded that the measure was necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of France, in accordance with Article 107 (3) (b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the temporary supervision. On this basis, the Commission authorized these schemes under EU state aid rules.

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Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager (pictured), competition policy, said: “This €3bn recapitalization scheme will allow France to support companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic by facilitating their access funding in these difficult times. We continue to work closely with member states to find practical solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic while respecting EU regulations.”

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