France is to heavily tighten entry conditions for people travelling both to and from the United Kingdom in order to limit the spread of the Omicron variant, the government said on Thursday.The prime minister’s office at Matignon confirmed that from midnight on Friday into Saturday, travellers will need to give “compelling reasons” in order to visit the UK and return to France, regardless of vaccination status.The statement cites the British government’s admission that an Omicron “tidal wave” is expected to hit the country as justification for the move.
Travel for tourism and business will not be allowed, the statement says. However, “these compelling reasons will nevertheless not apply to French citizens as well as their partner and their children who will still be able to come to France,” it explains.COVID-19 tests are required to enter France within the previous 24 hours, instead of the current 48 hours. They apply to all arrivals whether or not people are vaccinated.Matignon confirmed that the tests can be either PCR or lateral flow — although home tests are not valid — and proof must be in the form of a recognised certificate.People arriving in France from the UK will also need to self-isolate, and to register their address online in advance, via an app that will generate an isolation order from the prefecture. The quarantine can be lifted after 48 hours once a negative COVID-19 test is provided.The new measures will be “more drastic” than those which exist at the moment, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFMTV and RMC earlier on Thursday.He said that quarantine for visitors from the UK would be subject to “checks by the security forces”.The new restrictions were published on Thursday morning on France’s UK embassy website (in French).The French government website gives more details of what constitutes “compelling reasons” for travelling from France to the UK and back.For people heading to the UK, those authorised to travel include “foreign nationals rejoining their country”, visits after the death of a close family member, or if such a person is in a life-threatening condition.Those allowed to return to France include French and EU nationals and their families, as well as Britons “benefitting from the agreement” on Brexit, plus nationals of other countries residing in the EU.British civil servants travelling professionally, plus British police, customs officials and Channel tunnel workers are also allowed onto French territory. The same applies to health workers, registered students and teachers, and transport workers including lorry drivers carrying goods.The announcement comes the day after the UK registered 78,610 daily COVID-19 cases — the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic as the highly transmissible new Omicron variant spreads.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last Sunday that an Omicron “tidal wave” was expected to hit the country. In some areas, the number of Omicron cases is doubling every two days, he added on Wednesday.So far, France has detected 240 Omicron cases on its territory. The new restrictions concerning the UK were designed to “tighten the net” to reduce the number of cases of the variant entering the country and slow down its spread, Gabriel Attal said.
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