The Daily Telegraph
Group charters fishing boat for a quick exit
A GROUP of musicians managed to avoid the French quarantine rules with 10 minutes to spare after chartering a fishing boat to get them back to the UK.
The Scotland-based Dunedin Consort had been staying in Lessay Abbey in Normandy, performing their first concert since lockdown, when the 14day quarantine was announced.
They secured a boat at the last minute and eventually arrived at Hayling Island in Hampshire at 3.50am on Saturday – 10 minutes before the new rules came into effect.
In an interview with BBC Five Live, Jo Buckley, the Consort’s chief executive, said: “We sat up for a good few hours on Thursday night after the announcement, and tried Eurostar, the ferry, we even spoke to a plane company that charters private planes, but that was a little bit outside our budget.
“It was a last-ditch attempt on Friday morning. We thought there must be plenty of boats that cross the channel every day, and I went online, and found a couple of companies that take out private fishing tours, so their boats are out in the Channel pretty regularly.”
At the end of their final performance in France at 10.30pm on Friday, they took a coach to Cherbourg, where they boarded their Valkyrie Charters boat.
Ms Buckley said the five-hour journey was “pretty comfortable” with “plenty of space” for the eight musicians. She added that the unorthodox decision was driven in part by concern about the practicalities of quarantine which would have meant the group having to cancel or reschedule work.
She said: “It was just a case of trying to get our musicians home safely to try and make sure that they could work next week.
“The whole of the performing industry is in crisis now. It’s been six months since we have been able to perform, since our musicians have been able to work, and if they are not working they are not earning money.
“We took all of the necessary precautions [while in France] and we worked really safely while we were there, and we just wanted to – if possible – get home so the musicians wouldn’t have to ditch work next week and the week after.”
While eight members of the Consort made the sea journey, some opted for a more conventional approach.
Ms Buckley added: “There were a couple who decided that the boat wasn’t for them, and they took the Eurostar back today.
“They will be quarantining for the next two weeks, and that is fine, and that’s absolutely their choice. I didn’t want to make anyone do anything that they didn’t want to.”