France bans UK tourists over Omicron concerns


(CNN) — UK travelers are to be banned from traveling to France for tourism and will instead be required to present a “compelling reason” to enter the country.

The new travel restrictions, which will be enforced from midnight on December 17, come in response to the Omicron coronavirus variant, with the French government quoting the UK government’s recent statement that the UK is facing a “tidal wave” of Omicron cases in the coming days.

‘Compelling reason’ needed to travel

According to the French government, a compelling reason to travel could include working in the health or research sector, being a top-tier athlete, being an exchange student, or traveling due to the the death or grave illness of a relative.

Vacation or work-related travel is banned. French and EU nationals, as well as residents in France, are exempt from the new rule.

However, all those traveling from the UK to France, whether they’re vaccinated or non-vaccinated, must also show a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken within 24 hours.

The travelers must also quarantine upon arrival in France for 48 hours, as they await a negative PCR test result. Travelers will have to register their place of isolation on a digital platform.

The prime minister’s office said that checks will be carried out by French authorities to enforce quarantines.

UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed via Twitter that hauliers traveling across the Channel will remain exempt from these new rules.

Omicron concerns

There are widespread concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant, and countries across the world have been implementing travel restrictions since the variant was first detected a few weeks ago.

The UK initially clamped down on travel to and from several countries in southern Africa, but earlier this week removed these destinations from its red list.

“As Omicron cases rise in the UK and in countries around the world, the travel red list is less effective in slowing the incursion of the variant from abroad and these temporary measures are no longer proportionate,” read a statement from the UK government.
On December 13, the UK reported its first death from Omicron, and on December 15, the country reported 78,610 new Covid cases, according to UK governent figures.

Top image credit: Siegfried Modola/Getty Images