Health Minister Lord Bethell said all of Britain’s European neighbours could be put on the UK’s travel ban red list, as he accused EU nations of “rejecting” vaccination. This approach, the Express understands, includes France and Belgium where the Cross-Channel operator runs services to and from.
The measures could mean that all passengers travelling on Eurostar to and from the UK would have to Quarantine in a hotel at a cost of £1,750 which could force passenger numbers down.
Speaking in the House of Lords, the Health Minister, said: “They are not embracing the opportunity that a vaccine provides for driving down infection rates and protecting their populations.
“I don’t know how that will play out and it’s certainly above my pay grade to speculate.
“But we are all aware that the possibility lies that we will have to red list all of our European neighbours.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said Britain must brace for another wave of coronavirus infections being imported from Europe as cases rise on the continent.
Boris Johnson said he expected the third wave of COVID-19 infections, seen in countries such as France and Italy, to “wash up on our shores as well”.
Eurostar, which runs services between London St Pancras and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, carried 11 million passengers in 2019.
But sources close to the Cross-Channel operator warned Eurostar had already faced a 95 percent fall in demand, and warned any red-list restrictions would hamper the operator even more despite funding discussions taking place.
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“If funding doesn’t come in place and further measures restrict travel, we could be feeling the pinch of bankruptcy later on this year.”
The plea comes just days after Jean-Pierre Farandou, chief executive of French rail group SNCF warned Eurostar would have real cash flow problems by next month.
Eurostar is majority-owned (55 percent) by state-owned SNCF which faces losses of up to £4.2 billion due to tight travel restrictions in France.
The UK Government no longer have any involvement in the cross-channel operator after the Treasury sold its 40 percent stake to an Anglo-Canadian consortium for £757.1m in 2015.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Eurostar wasn’t the UK’s company to bail out after calls by French authorities to help with funding in February.