France will dramatically tighten restrictions on travel from Britain to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant, effectively banning all non-essential journeys.
The government announced in a statement that incoming travellers would require “an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated” from midnight on Saturday (11pm GMT Friday).
“People cannot travel for tourism or professional reasons,” it said, adding that the British government had itself said that the UK would face “a tidal wave” of new infections fuelled by the Omicron variant.
France had therefore “chosen to reinstate the need for an essential reason for travel from and to the UK”, it said.
In addition, all arrivals from the UK will need a negative PCR or antigen test taken within the previous 24, rather than 48 hours, and will have to quarantine in France for seven days – reduced to 48 hours if they can produce a new negative test.
“All travellers from the UK must register before their departure on a digital platform allowing them in particular to give the address where they will be staying in France,” the statement said, adding that the quarantine requirement would be policed.
French citizens, their partners and children would not be required to demonstrate an essential reason for travel and would still be able to enter France, the statement said, but would have to comply with all other measures.
The same rules should apply to EU citizens and people legally resident in France. For all others, essential reasons for travel are likely to be limited to documented family and medical emergencies, diplomatic missions, priority health workers and those who can demonstrate that their journey is “economically necessary”.
The British transport secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted that he had confirmed with Paris that the new restrictions would not apply to truck drivers. The ferry operator Brittany Ferries, however, described the French move as “a hammer blow to our Christmas season”.
“We will put in place a system of controls drastically tighter than the one we have already,” the French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told BFM TV.