Hundreds of British tourists flee in the night after being forced into quarantine

Hundreds of tourists from Britain forced into quarantine at a Swiss ski resort have fled in the night rather than seeing their holidays go downhill.

Staff at the luxury Verbier resort, known as 'Little London' for its popularity with British tourists, began to realise guests were missing after trays of food left outside their rooms remained untouched.

A spokesman for the Bagnes municipality in the canton of Valais, where the resort is located, said roughly 420 tourists from Britain, including Swiss nationals, were ordered into quarantine before Christmas.

About 50 fled immediately, Jean-Marc Sandoz told local newspaper SonntagsZeitung, while less than a dozen of the 370 others were still at the resort as of Sunday.
With flights cancelled, it was unclear where the tourists had escaped to though Swiss authorities said on Sunday that some had emerged in France, according to Deutsche Welle.

While travellers from the UK require a negative coronavirus test to enter France, the border at Chartelard is often unmanned, one France-based Twitter user said.

Switzerland's ski resorts were set to boom with snow-seeking British tourists - but a flight ban due to the new Covid-19 variant found in the UK put those plans on ice.

Some, like Verbier, remained open as cantons were largely responsible for implementing and enforcing their own coronavirus restrictions before the federal government imposed the flight ban.

The ruling by the Swiss government also included a 10-day retroactive quarantine for anyone who arrived from the UK since December 14, following the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus which experts fear spreads much more quickly.

Dozens of other countries introduced similar flight bans in response to the new variant, which has spread to several other countries in Europe.

Speaking on Monday, Alain Berset, the Swiss home affairs minister said the federal government was aware of the absconding tourists.

'That is of course a problem. I don't know where they have gone. I think they just went home. But the federal government has no options, we are not responsible for enforcement. We had to react quickly that everything wasn't going perfectly, that's clear,' Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported. (DM).

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