Hundreds of thousands of desperate Britons are rushing back from France today after the government added the country to its quarantine list.
They have until 4am to return to the UK or face a 14 day quarantine.
Tourists have piled onto trains, planes and cars as they try to get back to the UK before the deadline.
However, they are facing far higher costs than usual, with some flights up as much as 1000 per cent amid a surge in demand.
A Ryanair flight from Nantes in France to Edinburgh tonight costs almost £250, while the exact same flight costs just £21.64 next week.
That is an increase of 1,037 per cent.
The trend is mirrored among other carriers, with a BA flight from Nice to Heathrow at 9pm this evening costing £770 – but just £92 next week.
EasyJet is charging 191 per cent more for a flight from Paris to Gatwick tonight, £107 compared to £37 next week.
Pictured: Passengers arrive at St Pancras International Station from Paris today after it was announced Britons returning from France would have to isolate for 14 days from Saturday
People wait at Dover to cross the Channel to France as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there ‘has to be a cut-off’ in regards to a time period for those being mandated to self-isolate on their return to the UK from abroad
Ferries and trains are also seeing huge increases in costs for anxious Britons trying to get home.
Eurostar is charging an extra £84.50 for ticket this afternoon, 67 per cent more than a train from next Friday.
A DFDS ferry, which is due to leave Calais for Dover this afternoon, costs £196, while the same trip next Friday costs just £109.
However, even if you are willing to pay top dollar to come home, cancellations and limited services mean that some Britons won’t be able to find any travel.
P&O Ferries has limited availability, while many trains after midday are fully booked.
British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair also claim that as there are fewer flights operating at the moment
Consumer expert Martyn James, from complaints tool Resolver, slammed the prices.
He told the Sun: ‘The prices are just bonkers. It’s shameless for airlines to profiteer from holidaymakers’ desperation.
‘It’s unfair that hard-working Brits will bear the brunt of this.
Passengers wearing face masks as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus walk along the platform to an escalator after arriving on a Eurostar train from Paris at St Pancras International station in London
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted the Government had taken ‘a practical approach’ to the new restrictions. However, the move was criticised by France’s secretary of state for European affairs
‘Those who can’t afford to miss out on work or are unable to work from home will likely be on lower salaries.
‘The vast majority of holidaymakers will have booked before the pandemic.
‘They are not risk takers, they’ve taken government advice and probably have saved for months or years to go on holiday.’
Dyan Crowther, chief executive of the HS1 high-speed London to Channel Tunnel rail link, said it was ‘heartbreaking’ seeing families having to cancel holiday plans and spend hundreds of pounds dashing home to beat quarantine.
She said: ‘It’s heartbreaking, I have a family myself and like many other people I had holidays cancelled this year.
‘People want certainty, they want to know that they can go away without having to worry about what the world will look like when they return.
Ferries are seen in the Port of Dover, as Britain imposes a 14-day quarantine on arrival from France from Saturday
‘My heart goes out to them.’
A spokesperson from easyJet said: ‘As more seats are booked on a flight the price will rise so our fares start low and increase the closer it is to the date of departure.
‘The fares highlighted are a direct result of high demand for flights so fares automatically increase as seats on the aircraft are booked. We do not artificially increase ticket prices.’
A spokesperson from Ryanair said: ‘All of Ryanair’s fares are subject to availability and prices will increase with this demand. Ryanair fares are still half the price of our competitors.’
A Eurostar spokesperson commented: ‘We have seen an increase in last minute bookings following the governments announcement, and as availability has fallen the price on remaining tickets has increased.’
A DFDS spokesperson said: ‘During the summer prices up to £299 may apply on peak departures for a car and up to five people.’For this weekend we have set a maximum (capped fare) of £229, mindful that we have very concerned passengers who wish to get home before the quarantine deadline.’
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Former Cabinet Minister and TV presenter Esther McVey marries fellow Tory MP Philip Davies
Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies defied the virus gloom yesterday by tying the knot in a Westminster ceremony.
Former Cabinet Minister and TV presenter Ms McVey wore a distinctive white percher hat with partial birdcage veil and a custom-made dress from Philip Armstrong as she married Mr Davies in Parliament’s historic St Mary Undercroft chapel.
Meanwhile, the Doncaster-born groom, 48 and MP for Shipley, wore a suitably true blue suit.
Former Cabinet Minister and TV presenter Esther McVey, pictured left and right, wore a distinctive white percher hat with partial birdcage veil and a custom-made dress from Philip Armstrong as she married Mr Davies in Parliament’s historic St Mary Undercroft chapel
But marrying during the pandemic came at a price, as the couple, who have been dating for five years, had to uninvite dozens of guests to meet Covid rules limiting wedding parties to 30 – and ditch plans for a gospel choir.
Liverpudlian Ms McVey, MP for Tatton, joked: ‘When [the guest list] shrinks by this much, so does the cost. And surely a Yorkshireman could see the silver lining in that.’
She added: ‘You wait 52 years to get married and along comes coronavirus. I said to Philip, maybe the big guy in the sky is trying to tell us something. But Philip doesn’t always get my dark sense of humour!’
Other designs from Knutsford-based Mr Armstrong, whose wedding frocks sell for about £7,000, have been worn by A-listers including Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Nicole Scherzinger and Mel B.
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Give NHS heroes the George Cross, says LORD ASHCROFT
They are an eclectic mix of people – bomb disposal experts, secret agents, police officers, a schoolboy, a tram conductor and even an air stewardess. They have one thing in common: at some point in their lives they displayed such outstanding courage that they were awarded the George Cross (GC), Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious award for bravery when not in the presence of the enemy.
Today, just four days before the 80th anniversary of the creation of the GC, is an appropriate time to pay tribute to all those recipients of the decoration – living and dead – who since 1940 have earned their place in the history books. I regard them as the bravest of the brave.
As a champion of courage and a collector of gallantry medals, my fondness for the GC has grown and grown. Ten years ago my appreciation of the medal became so pronounced that I wrote a book called George Cross Heroes, one of six that I have penned on gallantry.
The GC achieves exactly what it was intended for when it was instigated by George VI on September 24, 1940 – it rewards extreme valour beyond the battlefield.
At that time, just over a year into the Second World War, the King was facing a dilemma: many bomb disposal officers and some civilians were, in the early days of the Blitz, showing immense courage.
The George Cross is Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious award for bravery when not in the presence of the enemy
However, George VI was unable to award them the Victoria Cross, the most prestigious award for gallantry in Britain and the Commonwealth, because the courage they had displayed was not – as the rules dictate – in the presence of the enemy. So, with the help of his close advisers, the King came up with a new medal for bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
As he said in an address to the nation on September 23, 1940: ‘I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction…’
The GC was created by royal warrant the next day but the irony is that, since then, about two-thirds of its 164 direct recipients have been personnel from the Armed Forces – and only around a third have been civilians.
This is because the bulk of the awards, particularly for bravery shown in the concluding five years of the Second World War, went to bomb disposal officers. Yet the civilians who received the award since 1940 have indeed come from all walks of life. And they include four women (to this day no woman has ever been awarded the VC because they have not been involved in frontline duties). Sadly, just over half of all the GC awards have been made posthumously, which indicates the degree of danger that the GC involves.
The first GC had been announced in the London Gazette on September 30, 1940. It was awarded to a civilian, Thomas Alderson, who had been responsible for a series of heroic operations in his home town of Bridlington, Yorkshire, where he had taken on the wartime role of Detachment Leader, Air Raid Precautions.
The seaside town of Bridlington was bombed several times by the Luftwaffe and, on at least three separate occasions during August 1940, Alderson showed outstanding gallantry. On one occasion, he worked tirelessly in great danger and in cramped conditions for three-and-a-half hours to release six people trapped in a cellar under a collapsed building.
His citation ended by saying: ‘By his courage and devotion to duty without the slightest regard for his own safety, he set a fine example to the members of the Rescue Party, and their teamwork is worthy of the highest praise.’
After the end of the war, it emerged just how many Britons had risked their lives to work behind enemy lines, often with the local resistance groups. Eventually three women were awarded the GC for their wartime heroics, two of them posthumously.
Violette Szabo – the daring British World War II agent who was tortured and then shot at Ravensbruck Prison in 1945
Violette Szabo (nee Bushell), who was born in Paris and spoke fluent French, was determined to help free the country of her birth. As part of her work for the highly secretive Special Operations Executive (SOE), she carried out two dangerous missions in German-occupied France.
However, her work with the local resistance, or Maquis, ended when she was captured on June 10, 1944, four days after the D-Day Landings, and tortured over a period of five months.
Some time in late January or early February she and two other female ‘spies’ were executed.
Szabo was 23 when she died and she left a young daughter.
Szabo’s GC was announced on December 17, 1946, and her citation ended by saying: ‘She was arrested and had to undergo solitary confinement.
‘She was then continuously and atrociously tortured but never by word or deed gave away any of her acquaintances or told the enemy anything of any value. She was ultimately executed. Madame Szabo gave a magnificent example of courage and steadfastness.’
Shortly before George Cross Heroes was published, I started a collection of GCs in addition to my collection of Victoria Crosses (VCs), the latter being the largest in the world and numbering more than 200.
Both collections are on display at a gallery that bears my name in the Imperial War Museum in London and I am delighted to say that the GC collection includes the Szabo decoration, which I purchased at auction five years ago.
John Bamford, 15, became the youngest recipient of the George Cross for his actions when a fire ripped through his family’s home in Nottinghamshire
On October 19, 1952, John (always known as ‘Jack’) Bamford became the youngest recipient of the George Cross. The son of a scrap metal dealer, Bamford was just 15 when a fire ripped through his family’s home in Nottinghamshire.
Aided by his father, young Bamford climbed up outside the house to release his mother and three of his siblings from a bedroom window, only to realise that two of his brothers were still trapped inside. He then crawled through the flames before dragging, and then lowering, both Roy, four, and Brian, six, to safety.
Jack, however, suffered severe burns to his face neck, chest, stomach, back, arms and hands. Only expert nursing, several skin grafts and his determination to live allowed him to pull through.
On December 16, his GC was announced when his lengthy citation concluded that: ‘John Bamford displayed courage of the highest order, and in spite of excruciating pain succeeded in rescuing his two brothers.’
On April 29, 1960, Raymond Donoghue became the first – and so far only – Tasmanian recipient of the GC. He had been a tram conductor for only six weeks when his tram collided with a lorry, went out of control and started running backwards.
Realising the dangers, Donoghue shepherded all the passengers to the front of the compartment, furthest from any likely impact. If he had leapt from the tram or gone to the front, his life, too, would have been saved.
Instead, however, he went into the driver’s cab at the rear – now acting as the very front of the runaway vehicle – where he continuously rang the alarm bell to warn the busy traffic of the dangers. He also tried in vain to apply the emergency brake. He was killed instantly when it collided with another, stationary, tram.
The citation to his posthumous GC, announced on October 11, 1960, said that: ‘By sacrificing his life Donoghue was responsible for saving the lives of a number of persons.’ Aged 40 when he died, he left a pregnant widow, with whom he already had six children.
Barbara Jane Harrison, the air stewardess who gave her life trying to save passengers from a blazing Boeing 707 at Heathrow Airport, was awarded the George Cross posthumously
Tony Gledhill was awarded the GC for an act of bravery on August 25, 1966, less than a month after England had triumphed in the World Cup at Wembley. It was also a time of great tension for the Metropolitan police, as the episode took place just 13 days after Harry Roberts, the notorious police killer, murdered three officers in Shepherd’s Bush, West London.
Then aged 29, Gledhill and a fellow police constable had been patrolling on foot in Deptford, South-East London, when they were ordered to pursue an erratically driven car containing five armed robbers.
An 80mph chase ensued, with the criminals firing 15 bullets at the two unarmed officers in an attempt to shake them off. After five miles, the robbers crashed into a lorry, whereupon they tried to flee amid scenes of mayhem.
One of them tried to hijack Gledhill’s car at gunpoint, ordering the two constables to get out. But Gledhill responded by grabbing the criminal’s hand gun as the car set off then, finding himself dragged along as the vehicle accelerated, somehow managed to get back inside and overpower the driver in a struggle.
Gledhill’s GC was announced on May 23, 1967.
Barbara Jane Harrison is the only woman to receive the GC for actions other than those undertaken during the Second World War.
On April 8, 1968, she was the stewardess on a Boeing 707 passenger jet taking off from Heathrow airport with 126 passengers and crew on board. Roughly a minute after take-off, the number two engine caught fire. Two-and- a-half minutes later, the plane made an emergency landing.
Harrison stayed on board to help passengers escape from the rear galley door down a chute that had become twisted.
I hope that the staff of the NHS might soon become the third collective award of the GC for their bravery in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, writes LORD ASHCROFT
When huge flames prevented their escape, she directed passengers to another exit before attempting to save an elderly disabled woman.
However, both were overcome by smoke and flames and Harrison died, aged just 22, along with the elderly woman. Harrison’s posthumous GC citation announced on August 8, 1969, praised her as ‘a very brave young lady who gave her life in her utter devotion to duty.’
Jim Beaton had been working as the personal bodyguard to Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, for less than a year when a deranged gunman tried to kidnap her as she was being driven back to Buckingham Palace after a Royal engagement in the City on March 20, 1974.
In his courageous and eventually successful attempt to save the life of the Queen’s only daughter, he was shot twice from close range and later underwent emergency surgery. His GC was announced on September 27, 1974.
In an interview for my book, Beaton told me: ‘Looking back on it, there were only two directions for me to go – forwards or backwards. And I suppose backwards, to use modern parlance, wasn’t in my vocabulary.’
I am glad to say that Beaton, along with Gledhill and Bamford, are all still alive and are active members of the VC and GC Association, which represents all living holders of the two decorations.
The most recent award of the GC was to Dominic Troulan for his actions during the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya. His GC, the first to a civilian for 25 years, was announced on June 16, 2017, when his citation ended: ‘Troulan had the presence of mind to realise that the terrorists could be hiding among the survivors. Troulan enlisted help and searched the civilians once he had led them to safety, thus ensuring that no terrorists were hiding in their midst.’
Incidentally, Troulan was a retired major who had already been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal (QGM) for bravery in Northern Ireland.
I should point out that this article and my book highlight only the direct awards of the GC.
In 1971, the living recipients of the Albert Medal and Edward Medal were invited to exchange their awards for the GC and most elected to do so (although 24 decided to keep their existing decoration). Those holding the Empire Gallantry Medal had already had their award exchanged for the GC in 1940.
I hope that these examples of outstanding bravery over the past eight decades help to explain my immense affection for both the recipients of the GC and the decoration, which is made from silver with a plain cross of four equal limbs. In the centre, the cross, which is one-and-a-half inches wide, has a circular medallion portraying St George slaying a dragon. The inscription around this central medallion reads simply ‘For gallantry’. The GC is worn on the left breast before all other decorations, other than the VC.
The GC replaced the Empire Gallantry Medal which George VI did not consider of high enough standing for the purpose he had in mind. The GC was awarded for ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of great danger’.
The King also decided that the George Medal (GM) should be awarded for acts of great bravery that were not so outstanding as to merit the GC.
During the history of the GC, there have been two collective awards. The first was to the island of Malta on April 15, 1942, for the bravery of the islanders in resisting Germany and Italy during the early years of the Second World War. The second was to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) on November 23, 1999, for the bravery of its men and women during a 30-year campaign of terrorism, during which 302 officers were killed and thousands more injured.
I hope that the staff of the NHS might soon become the third collective award of the GC for their bravery in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. During this current emergency, many people from all walks of life have stepped up to the plate, but it has been our 1.2 million-plus NHS workers who have borne the brunt of the burden during the past six months.
Wouldn’t the 80th anniversary of the creation of the GC be the perfect time to recognise their collective bravery? That’s just a personal view, however. What is beyond doubt is that the GC has proved to be a huge success as a means of rewarding exceptional valour, both in times of war and peace.
I, for one, shall be raising a glass on Thursday to wish this wonderful decoration a very happy 80th birthday.
lLord Ashcroft KCMG PC is a businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For information on Lord Ashcroft’s work, including his six books on bravery, visit www.lordashcroft.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook: @LordAshcroft
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Soho’s iconic Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club reopens in style
The Soho-based club opened its doors with a reduced capacity of 50 per cent and with strict social distancing measures in place.
The venue had been gearing up to welcome guests back inside from August 1 with a special gig, but this date was pushed back after a government announcement at the end of July.
Back in business: London’s iconic Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club reopened in style tonight after being shut for 137 days due to the coronavirus pandemic
The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, who were the last act to play before the closure, hit the stage at the reopening, where groups of drinkers enjoyed a cocktail in the outdoor seating areas.
The group featuring vocal sensation Natalie Williams and the club’s Musical Director, James Pearson, with the band presenting The Soho Songbook with classic music from the jazz greats.
Other artists hitting the stage included one of the UK’s top jazz vocalists Liane Carrol and singer-songwriter Reuben James.
Party time! The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, who were the last act to play before the closure, hit the stage at the reopening, where groups of drinkers enjoyed a cocktail in the outdoor seating areas
Rules: The Soho-based club opened its doors with a reduced capacity of 50 per cent and with strict social distancing measures in place
Warm-up: Natalie Williams of the The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars rehearsed ahead of the reopening of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Saturday
Getting ready: Singer Natalie Williams applied makeup ahead of her performance at the reopening of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho
Disappointing: The venue had been gearing up to welcome audiences back inside from August 1 with a special gig, but this date was pushed back after a government announcement at the end of July
Simon Cooke, managing Director of Ronnie Scott’s said: ‘It’s great to be back doing what we do, we have been looking on enviously whilst restaurants have reopened, especially as the club is laid out like a restaurant.
‘We have been planning the relaunch for some time so as soon as we got the green light for live performance we moved into action.
‘Our unique structure of seating lends itself to distancing, some may say the added space is an improvement.
Preparations: A member of staff cleaned tables ahead of the opening of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, as the venue welcomes visitors for the first time since it closed for lockdown
Performance: The Ronnie Scotts All Stars rehearsed on stage ahead of the reopening
Overdue: Simon Cooke, managing Director of Ronnie Scott’s said: ‘It’s great to be back doing what we do’
Fun: Members of the public dined outside Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, London, as the venue welcomes visitors for the first time since it closed for lockdown
Iconic: Excited members of the public queued to enter the central London venue tonight
Music: Other artists hitting the stage included one of the UK’s top jazz vocalists Liane Carrol, singer-songwriter Reuben James
Decisions: The move to reopen comes after careful consideration and a poll amongst the club’s members
Safety first: A man had his temperature checked ahead of entering the venue on the night of its reopening
Pre-show: The singer Emma Smith sang into a make up brush ahead of her performance at the reopening of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
‘Safety of our customers, staff and artists is of paramount importance so there will be protocols for the customers, the staff and the musicians.
‘It’s been reported that social distancing measures could be financially ruinous for many other music venues to open, but it would be financially ruinous for us not to!’
Announcing the push back of the reopening dates of indoor music venues on July 31, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Our plan to reopen society was conditional and relies on continued progress against the virus.
Our assessment is that we should squeeze the brake pedal.’
Exciting: A couple took a selfie at the opening of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club after 137 days of being shut
Getting ready: Natalie Williams of the The Ronnie Scotts All Stars rehearsed ahead of the reopening
Precautions: The tables at the venue were divided by glass for social distancing measures to be possible
Tough decisions: Announcing the push back of the reopening dates of indoor music venues on July 31, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Our plan to reopen society was conditional and relies on continued progress against the virus
Time to celebrate: Ronnie Scott’s thew open its doors for the first time in 137 days having been closed due the global Coronavirus pandemic
Popular: Members of the public wore masks as they waited eagerly in the queue to enter the venue
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