A nominated “hero of lockdown” has been forced to pay £300 to fly home from France to avoid a 14-day quarantine.
Samuel Sewell, a homelessness outreach support worker, paid over five times the price of his original plane ticket to return to the UK after it was announced that people arriving in the UK from France after 4am on Saturday will be required to self-isolate.
Mr Sewell, 25, explained that he paid the “astronomical” price as he is unable to work from home.
“As soon as we found out, we were frantically trying to get on to the Ryanair website to get me back to the UK,” Mr Sewell told the PA news agency.
“It was a very stressful time from last night trying to get my flight booked because I needed to be home; I can’t afford to quarantine for 14 days. There was no option.”
Mr Sewell, who lives in Gloucestershire, planned to visit Limoges with friends until Monday, but returned to the UK on Friday morning.
He had originally paid £110 for a return flight to Bristol Airport through Ryanair, with prices surging after the announcement.
Other airlines have seen price hikes, with British Airways selling tickets for a flight from Paris to London Heathrow on Friday night at £452.
The same journey on Saturday could be made with the airline for £66.
“By the time I was able to book, it had gone up to £300,” Mr Sewell told PA.
“I wasn’t expecting it, I knew that the Government were monitoring the situation, but I was under the understanding that they would give us a lot more notice.”
Mr Sewell was named a “lockdown hero” by Stroud Town Council for his work with a homelessness charity throughout the lockdown period.
He explained that he was in a fortunate position to buy a ticket home, but that other travellers “wouldn’t have been able to afford that”.
“I wish that the Government had subsidised travel to get back to the UK,” he told PA.
“Or for the Government to give us a lot more notice before putting that measure in place, that would have been a lot fairer.
“It was only because I’d saved money for a rainy day that I was able to afford to come back.”
Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN. If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) August 13, 2020
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an estimated 160,000 holidaymakers were expected to try to return to the UK from France on Friday before the new measures are brought in.
The conditions will also apply to travellers returning to or visiting the UK from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba.
“It’s a practical approach, which has enabled all four parts of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England – to implement the same time at 4am where there are no flights in the air, at least tomorrow,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Ryanair did not respond to PA’s request for comment, however an update shared on the company’s website says: “Please note that government-imposed advice on quarantine period will not result in the flight being cancelled and automatic entitlement to refunds.”