Published: 23:00, 13 August 2020
| Updated: 15:00, 14 August 2020
Cross-channel operators are experiencing a huge surge in demand as tourists try to flee France before tough new quarantine rules come into force.
Many crossings between France and Dover have sold out following the Government's announcement that visitors returning to the UK from France will have to remain in their homes for 14 days if they arrive after 4am on Saturday.
Most crossings between Dunkirk and Calais to Dover sold out within minutes of the news breaking.
And there are huge queues on the Channel Tunnel website as people look to cut their holidays short.
A spokesman from Eurotunnel said: "In light of the change to quarantine requirements for UK travellers returning from France, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle would like to advise customers currently in France, and hoping to return early, that they must amend their tickets online at www.eurotunnel.com, before travelling to the French terminal.
"The service is already very busy this weekend and there is no additional capacity. To avoid long queues and severe disruption we strongly advise against turning up at the terminal outside the allocated time. Customers will be unable to board alternative shuttles without a valid booking.
"We will continue to run our services as scheduled, as we did throughout the height of thepandemic; not only for freight but to transport those whose travel is essential and those customers who might be travelling to other European destinations.
"Travellers choose Eurotunnel Le Shuttle for travel because of its contactless travel experience, keeping families safe on their journey."
The move came after Boris Johnson said ministers would be “absolutely ruthless” in deciding on whether to impose the self-isolation requirement.
The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba have also been added to the quarantine list from 4am on Saturday.
The decision to add France will cause dismay for thousands of British holidaymakers currently in the country.
It was made in response to the spread of the virus, with the latest 14-day cumulative figures showing 32.1 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.
The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK - and will also have a knock-on effect on the many French tourists visiting Kent.
The Foreign Office updated its advice to warn against all but essential travel to the country because of the coronavirus risk.
Before the announcement was made, Mr 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.”
Mr Johnson said the Government could not allow the UK’s population to be “reinfected or the disease to come back in”.
With Spain already on the quarantine list, it now means that holidaymakers returning to the UK from the two most popular overseas destinations must now isolate for 14 days.
Shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said: “While we support evidence based measures at the border, it’s vital that the Government has a joined-up strategy, and recognises the impact of this on travel-related businesses. It is vital that a sector-specific deal is put in place urgently.
“That the Government has still not put in place an effective track, trace and isolate system has made matters far worse and made it more likely that we are reliant on the blunt tool of 14-day quarantine.
“The Government should publish all of the scientific evidence its decisions are based on and details of any work being done to reduce the time needed to isolate through increased testing and other measures.”