France to drastically restrict travel from UK

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) met in Rome on Sunday

France is tightening Covid restrictions for travellers arriving from the UK, as the government in Paris tries to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

The French prime minister’s office said that from Saturday all non-residents would have to give a compelling reason for travelling to France.

All arrivals would have to provide a negative Covid test less than 24 hours old and isolate for at least two days.

Confirmed Omicron cases are currently much higher in the UK than in France.

The UK recorded 78,610 new Covid cases on Wednesday – the highest daily number reported since the start of the pandemic.

Slightly more than 10,000 have been confirmed as Omicron, but it is thought that about twice that number are cases of the new variant.

France reported 65,713 new Covid cases over a similar period but has only 240 confirmed cases of Omicron.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says there is no sense of panic about Omicron in France but there are doubts and worries.

A statement from French Prime Minister Jean Castex’s office (in French), said the UK was, in its own words, about to face a “landslide” linked to Omicron in the coming days.

“As the Omicron variant spreads extremely quickly in the United Kingdom, the French government has decided to re-implement compelling reasons for travels from and to the United Kingdom, and to reinforce mandatory tests at departures and arrivals,” it said.

From midnight on Saturday local time (23:00 GMT on Friday), anyone coming from the UK will be required to have tested negative by PCR or antigen test less than 24 hours before their arrival in France.

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They will be asked to register prior to their trip on a digital platform and provide an address for their stay in France.

Once in France they will be expected to self-isolate for a week, unless they have a second negative test, in which case they can end their quarantine after just 48 hours.

These restrictions currently only apply to arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.

Non-residents will need compelling reasons for entry, which include family visits – but not tourism or non-urgent work.

However, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said hauliers would be exempt from the new restrictions.

France has also advised people intending to travel to the UK to postpone their trips.

Source: BBC