- Eurostar made an emergency stop in Lille where French police arrested Britta
- Eight uniformed officers surrounded the passenger and took him off the train
- A Eurostar manager arrested after wearing the ‘wrong type of mask’
Passengers will have to wear masks at all times except for food and drink
Armed French police boarded a London-bound Eurostar yesterday and arrested a British passenger after a train manager accused him of wearing the ‘wrong type of mask’.
The extraordinary drama saw the unidentified man – who is in his 40s and believed to be from Liverpool – being pulled out of a train after making an emergency stop in Lille, northern France.
He was then surrounded by at least eight uniformed officers, and was left stranded when the train resumed its journey to England.
Eurostar requires all passengers to wear masks onboard, but a spokesman said today that there were no rules specifying what kind of mask should be worn.
Other passengers in the service said that the train’s female manager disliked the man after an exchange of words, and ordered the service to stop so that he could be arrested.
“I’ve done nothing wrong and respect all coronavirus rules – it’s absolutely disgraceful,” he said, as he was escorted away on Thursday afternoon in front of other stunned passengers.
He continued: ‘I have absolutely no idea what this is all about, except that a Eurostar staff member has taken a very strong dislike to me, and accused me of not wearing the right kind of mask.
‘Now I’m going to be alone in France, when I just wanted to go home from a work trip. This is very cruel behavior. We all should keep moving forward by not treating each other like this.’
Armed French police boarded a London-bound Eurostar and arrested a British passenger after a train manager accused him of wearing the ‘wrong type of mask’.
What are the Eurostar mask rules?
All Eurostar passengers are required to wear face masks at train stations and on board.
The rule applies to all travelers, including those who have been fully vaccinated.
A spokeswoman for the press office said they were not aware of specific rules about what type of face covering passengers should wear.
Other passengers then complained about an unscheduled, undeclared stop in Lille which caused a delay of 15 minutes.
‘Why is Eurostar stopping its trains, and delaying hundreds of passengers, due to a small dispute over a man’s mask?’ Said one.
The female Eurostar manager, who remained on the train after the man was detained, confirmed that she had informed him to wear the ‘wrong type of mask’ to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Asked why the man was taken off the train, one of the Lille police officers confirmed that he had been arrested, adding: ‘We don’t know why, we have to find out.’
The drama unfolded shortly after Eurostar 9031 left Paris Gare du Nord at 1.13 pm French time on Thursday.
It was due to travel directly to London, arriving at St Pancras at 2.39am UK time – only two and a half hours later.
But within minutes of departure the Eurostar manager got into a heated argument with the man.
The man was deboarded from a train in Lille, northern France, by eight uniformed officers, after being reported by a Eurostar manager
He accused her of not following health and safety rules, and said the black mask she was wearing was not appropriate.
All passengers on Eurostar are expected to wear masks at all times, except when they are eating or drinking.
There was a buffet on the train, and many passengers in Coach 13 – where the man sat alone by a window in a two-seater row – had removed their masks altogether as were sandwiches and drinks with them.
Despite this, the manager scolded the person, and then used the radio to call another staff member.
She then said she would alert the police in Lille, to make sure the man was removed ‘as quickly as possible’.
The businessman then replaced his black mask with the standard blue one provided by another passenger. He apologized, and it appeared that he avoided any further action.
All passengers on Eurostar are expected to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking
But as the train approached Lille, it made an unscheduled stop, and three armed officers boarded while others waited on the platform.
‘It was ridiculous,’ said another passenger, a 32-year-old London woman who asked to be called by her first name, Lee.
‘The Eurostar woman was telling the police what to do, and insisted that the poor man should be removed, as if he was some kind of criminal.
‘He was actually very reasonable, and wasn’t swearing or acting in any kind of disruptive way – everyone else was on his side, but he was removed and we didn’t see him again.’
The Eurostar manager remained on the train until Saint-Pancras, and was seen leaving the train with a rucksack.
Eurostar later issued a statement regarding the man’s arrest.
It read: ‘Eurostar’s conditions of carriage clearly state that a face mask must be worn for the entire journey within and on board the stations, and failure to comply with this may result in denial of travel.
‘Unfortunately, on Thursday a passenger aboard a service from Paris to the UK repeatedly removed his mask both in station and on board, despite gentle reminders from staff.
‘During the journey, the passenger became aggressive and intimidated towards the on-board team, when they politely reminded him to wear a mask as required under our conditions of carriage.
‘Eurostar teams have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all those involved, and this type of behavior towards our employees cannot be tolerated.
‘As a result, the passenger was asked to leave the train at Lille station and in this situation it is normal practice for the police to be present and assist.’
The governments of France and Britain are currently engaged in a war of words over Brexit and fishing rights.
After refusing to allow dozens of French fishermen to trawl UK waters, Paris has threatened to cut off Britain’s access to energy markets and impose trade tariffs as part of ‘retaliatory’ measures.