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HomeUK NewsCOVID-19: France to block British tourists amid rise in UK Omicron cases

COVID-19: France to block British tourists amid rise in UK Omicron cases

British tourists are to be banned from France amid concern over the “extremely rapid” rise in Omicron COVID cases in the UK.

From Saturday morning, France is barring travel to and from Britain without “compelling reasons”.

Those reasons do not include tourism and business, Paris said.

Whitty questioned by MPs on Omicron; a million could be isolating with COVID on Christmas Day – live COVID updates

It added that for those able to travel from the UK under a “compelling reason”, there will be the obligation to register the address of their stay in France.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM television the measures will include reducing the validity of pre-departure PCR tests to 24 hours from 48 for travellers arriving from Britain.

They will have to test again on arrival and isolate “in a place they choose” for at least 48 hours pending the result, Mr Attal added.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said hauliers will not be affected.

“To confirm, I have liaised with my French counterpart, and hauliers will remain exempt,” he tweeted.

French nationals and their spouses and children are also unaffected by the new rules.

Brittany Ferries described the measures as a “hammer blow to our Christmas season”.

“In the context of an Omicron variant that is passing through the French population as it is in the UK, further border controls seem as unnecessary as they are unwelcome,” a spokesman added.

Niall Walsh, chief operating officer of ticket booking website Direct Ferries, said his company was taking calls from “distraught UK customers who are desperate to either cancel or bring their bookings forward”.

He added that the action by France was a “disappointing and we believe unnecessary decision which will keep many people apart again this year for the holiday”.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Blanket country measures are a damaging backwards step and never work”.

He added: “Omicron is already in France and other EU countries. Why should the millions boosted be treated the same way as those unvaccinated and prevented from entry?”

The Delta variant of COVID-19 remains dominant in France.

Its government is holding a virus security meeting on Friday to examine growing pressure on hospitals from rising infections in recent weeks.

France said in a statement: “In the UK government’s own words, the UK is facing a ‘tidal wave’ of the Omicron variant in the coming days.”

It added: “In response to the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK, the government is reinstating compelling reasons for travel to and from the UK, and strengthening the requirement for testing on departure and arrival.”

Another 78,610 COVID cases were reported in the UK on Wednesday – the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic.

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