British tourists have been banned from France amid concern over the “extremely rapid” rise in Omicron COVID cases in the UK.
From 11pm on Friday, France barred travel to and from Britain without “compelling reasons” – which do not include tourism and business.
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 include reducing the validity of pre-departure PCR tests to 24 hours from 48 for travellers arriving from Britain.
They must now test again on arrival and isolate “in a place they choose” for at least 48 hours pending the result, Mr Attal added.
French nationals and their spouses and children are also unaffected by the new rules.
Tourism companies have been left with a wave of cancellations as a result of the ban.
‘This was a big hammer blow’
Nick Robinson, chief executive of the Maison Sport ski school, has seen a large number of cancellations.
He told Sky News: “This was a big hammer blow not just to our business but the wider industry.
“In terms of Christmas and New Year, it counts for around 20% of our annual revenue so it could be around £500,000 in terms of cancellations.”
A spokesman for Brittany Ferries said: “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.”
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”.
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.
Meanwhile, the UK reported 93,045 cases of coronavirus in the latest 24-hour period – a record high for daily infections as the Omicron variant surges across the country.
Another 3,201 new cases of Omicron have been recorded, taking the total number to 14,909 as it becomes the dominant strain in Scotland and London.