Europe midday: UK quarantine chaos hammers travel shares
Britain's ongoing coronavirus travel quarantine confusion continued to drag on travel shares at midday on Friday, pulling the European market lower.
Panicked Brits scrambled to return home from France, the Netherlands, Malta and Monaco ahead of Saturday before a 14-day quarantine rule took effect. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 1.3% at 367.62 with major Continental bourses in the red.
Worries about a second Covid-19 wave in France also dampened sentiment, as the country put Paris and the major southern port city of Marseille on red alert.
Travel stocks dominated the losers board after the UK government suddenly added the four popular summer holiday destinations to its coronavirus quarantine list, joining Spain, another key location for UK tourists.
Shares in Tui, easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways owner IAG and cruise line giant Carnival were all down sharply. French hotel group Accor was also off as the fear of fewer guests sent the shares lower.
Craig Erlam, analyst at OANDA said the new came "just as the travel and tourism sector was starting to get back on its feet after being decimated by the pandemic, with countries going into lockdown, borders closing and planes remaining grounded".
"The decision to add France to the list of quarantine countries affects a huge amount of British holidaymakers and adds the country to a list of frustrated holiday destinations - that also includes Spain - that depends on travellers from the UK."
"The decision is not going to be welcomed with open arms here in the UK either, with holidaymakers already in France now being subject to costly return journeys, assuming they can do it at all before tomorrow's 4am deadline, or a two week quarantine. The price of travel has naturally soared due to the increased demand, piling further misery on those forced to return."
"What's more, the move by the UK government is unlikely to come without reciprocation, meaning UK businesses that rely on tourists from France and other that have been added to the list will also suffer. The government claims the move is necessary to keep numbers in the UK low, having been heavily criticised for its laboured decision making back in March. Now if cases surpass 20 per 100,000 on average over seven days, quarantine will follow, clearly without any exception."