Ex-UK number one tennis star Anne Hobbs flew from New York to Paris to try to get to London


Former British number one tennis player Anne Hobbs has been left devastated after she flew from New York City to Paris in the hope of getting to London without quarantine – before England said it will open its doors to the US but not France.

The 61-year-old, who played singles as well as mixed doubles with Andrew Castle, has a boat ticket to Britain booked for the day the transatlantic rules are relaxed on Monday.

But her decision to fly to the French capital and Normandy on July 25 to see her daughter’s boyfriend’s family means she will not be able to enter the country without a ten-day isolation period.

She said ‘every man and his dog is now allowed into the UK’ but she cannot get here for just five days to meet her great-niece and great-nephew who were born in the last year.

The Nottingham native, who is a three-time Grand Slam doubles finalist and now coaches in the US, said she feels like ‘I have met my Waterloo’ and pleaded with Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to revise the rules.

And she blasted Wimbledon – where she competed throughout the 1980s – and Wembley for hosting crowds with no social distancing or face coverings this summer.

It comes after it emerged France was only placed on the ‘amber-plus’ list because of Beta variant cases on the tiny Reunion Island 6,000 miles from Paris.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab openly admitted the classification was based on the prevalence of the strain ‘in the Reunion bit of France’ – an island in the Indian Ocean.

Currently, only travellers who have had two doses of a vaccine are permitted to enter the UK from an amber country – such as the US and most of the EU – without quarantining, except those returning from France.

But ministers this week decided to extend the exemption in England to those vaccinated in the US and most of Europe.

The 61-year-old, who played singles and mixed doubles with Andrew Castle, has a boat ticket to Britain booked for the day the transatlantic rules are relaxed on Monday

The 61-year-old, who played singles and mixed doubles with Andrew Castle, has a boat ticket to Britain booked for the day the transatlantic rules are relaxed on Monday

Fury as French holiday makers still have to quarantine while rest of EU can enter Britain

France is the only EU country from which those vaccinated under the UK programme must self-isolate for ten days when they return. The decision is set to be reviewed next week and ministers are hopeful that the country could be removed from the list.

A fresh row erupted over France being put on the amber-plus list last night after Dominic Raab admitted it was because of Covid cases on an island 6,000 miles away from Paris. The Foreign Secretary yesterday said the country had been added to the list because of high levels of the Beta coronavirus variant on the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

His claim came in the wake of a series of Government denials that this was the case. The decision two weeks ago to put France on the list triggered fierce controversy and led to thousands of fully-vaccinated holidaymakers having to self-isolate for ten days on their return.

It also sparked a diplomatic row with Paris. French president Emmanuel Macron is said to be annoyed about the decision to place France on the amber-plus list. One of his closest aides yesterday slammed the quarantine restrictions as ‘excessive and frankly baffling’.

French Europe minister Clement Beaune said: ‘If I understood correctly, this is being done in the name of the famous Beta variant, the South African variant, which represents less than 5 per cent of cases in France, most of which are in our overseas territories that are not affected by the same flows of people towards the UK.’

Ms Hobbs, who has had two doses of the vaccine in New York City, where she now lives, told MailOnline: ‘My daughter, her boyfriend and I travelled to be with his family in Paris and Normandy with the intention to see my family in London.

‘The plans were moving along very well until France went on the amber plus list. We have boat tickets and accommodation booked for London to leave on Monday August 2.

‘It seems every man and his dog is now allowed to travel to UK without quarantine except us and anyone else coming from France.

‘Most people who know me know that I am a very persistent and competitive person and I have met my Waterloo.’

She told how she has not seen her family since July 2019 and was desperate to meet her newly-born great-niece and great-nephew.

She said: ‘I would be so happy to see for the first time, my two new family members, my great niece and my great nephew who were born this past year along with the rest of my family.’

The single mother also blasted the fact Wimbledon and Wembley were open to crowds of revellers who did not have to social distance or wear face coverings during the Grand Slam and the Euros.

Ms Hobbs said: ‘Through television I witnessed thousands of fans at Wimbledon and Wembley this summer with no social distancing or masks.

‘There is no scientific reason to continue to hold people in France hostage to this situation.’

She added she cannot wait long for the UK Government to drop the 10-day quarantine because she has work commitments and flights back to New York City from Paris ‘that cannot be changed’.

Foreign Secretary Mr Raab admitted on Thursday France was only placed on the ‘amber plus’ list because of Beta variant cases on the tiny Reunion Island 6,000 miles from Paris.

He said the classification was based on the prevalence of the strain ‘in the Reunion bit of France’ – which is an island in the Indian Ocean.

Her decision to fly to the French capital and Normandy on July 25 to see her daughter's boyfriend's family means she will not be able to enter the country without a ten-day isolation period. Pictured: Ms Hobbs at Wimbledon in 1986 after beating Zina Garrison

Her decision to fly to the French capital and Normandy on July 25 to see her daughter's boyfriend's family means she will not be able to enter the country without a ten-day isolation period. Pictured: At Wimbledon in 1984

Her decision to fly to the French capital and Normandy on July 25 to see her daughter’s boyfriend’s family means she will not be able to enter the country without a ten-day isolation period

Passengers in the international arrivals hall at Terminal 2 of London Heathrow Airport are pictured yesterday

Passengers in the international arrivals hall at Terminal 2 of London Heathrow Airport are pictured yesterday

He added: ‘It’s not the distance that matters, it’s the ease of travel between different component parts of any individual country.’

France voiced fury at the ‘incomprehensible’ decision to leave it out of exemptions from quarantine for EU and US travellers coming to the UK.

La Reunion will go into a partial lockdown at the weekend due to a surge in Covid-19 infections.

There is growing concern among officials in Paris over the infection rates in France’s overseas territories in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific where vaccination uptake is lower than the nationwide average.

La Reunion will from Saturday for the next two weeks go into partial lockdown, with movement only allowed 10km from people’s home in the daytime and five kilometres on a Sunday, said its top official, prefect Jacques Billant.

In the evenings, there will be a strict curfew from 6.00pm until 5.00am, with no movement allowed expect for essential reasons, he added.

Cafes, restaurants and gyms will also close for the next two weeks as Mr Billant described the situation as ‘worrying’.

Dominic Raab's (pictured yesterday) comments came as France voiced fury at the 'incomprehensible' decision to leave it out of exemptions from quarantine for EU and US travellers coming to the UK

Dominic Raab’s (pictured yesterday) comments came as France voiced fury at the ‘incomprehensible’ decision to leave it out of exemptions from quarantine for EU and US travellers coming to the UK

The Foreign Secretary openly admitted that the classification was based on the prevalence of the strain 'in the Reunion bit of France' - which is an island in the Indian Ocean. Pictured, the 6,000-mile difference between Paris and Reunion Island

The Foreign Secretary openly admitted that the classification was based on the prevalence of the strain ‘in the Reunion bit of France’ – which is an island in the Indian Ocean. Pictured, the 6,000-mile difference between Paris and Reunion Island

La Reunion (pictured) will from Saturday for the next two weeks go into partial lockdown, with movement only allowed 10 kilometres from people's home in the daytime and five kilometres on a Sunday, said its top official, prefect Jacques Billant

La Reunion (pictured) will from Saturday for the next two weeks go into partial lockdown, with movement only allowed 10 kilometres from people’s home in the daytime and five kilometres on a Sunday, said its top official, prefect Jacques Billant

He said there was ‘unprecedented exponential growth of the epidemic’ with 350 out of every 100,000 inhabitants infected.

The situation on La Reunion is being particularly closely watched after Britain said it was the main reason why travellers from France – unlike all other non-red list destinations – still have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the country.

Mr Raab told the BBC this was due to the prevalence of the Beta variant on La Reunion, which is off Madagascar and over 9,000 kilometres (almost 6,000 miles) from Paris.

A spokesman for Brittany Ferries, which runs ferries across the Channel, said the Government’s logic was ‘like France hammering British holidaymakers due to a Covid outbreak on the (British Atlantic territory of the) Falkland Islands.’

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune earlier lambasted the British restrictions as ‘discriminatory towards French people’ and making ‘no sense in terms of health policy’.

Beaune said the Beta strain accounted for fewer than five percent of Covid cases in France, and mostly occurred in overseas territories from where relatively few people travelled to the UK.

Current amber and red list destinations. A review of the UK travel list is expected on Wednesday or Thursday next week

Current amber and red list destinations. A review of the UK travel list is expected on Wednesday or Thursday next week

But Prime Minister Jean Castex earlier expressed alarm over the ‘dramatic’ situation in some overseas territories, with only three out of every 10 adults vaccinated on La Reunion compared with over half nationwide.

The Caribbean territory of Martinique, where only 15 per cent of people are vaccinated, will also go into a three-week lockdown from Friday.

Only limited movements will be allowed in daytime and will have a curfew from 7pm, its prefect Stanislas Cazelles announced.

The shock move to place France in its own category earlier this month wrecked thousands of families’ holidays as well as the plans of many expats hoping to see loved ones for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Cases of the Delta variant have fallen sharply in France in recent weeks and ministers are confident it will be restored to the same status as other amber list countries, meaning fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to quarantine when they return.

French minister Clement Beaune has slammed the decision to keep quarantine measures for vaccinated travellers coming from France to the UK, while other EU countries and the US are exempted.

Mr Beaune told LCI TV: ‘It’s excessive, and it’s frankly incomprehensible on health grounds… It’s not based on science and discriminatory towards the French.

‘I hope it will be reviewed as soon as possible, it’s just common sense.’ Mr Beaune said France was not planning tit-for-tat measures ‘for now’.



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