British tourists banned from visiting France as Omicron cases rise

16 December 2021, 08:44 | Updated: 16 December 2021, 09:18

  • From Saturday morning, France is banning travel to and from the UK without "compelling reasons"
  • French officials said they are taking steps to “drastically” restrict travel from the UK because of Omicron
  • 'Compelling reasons' needed to visit France exclude tourism and business
British tourists are going to be banned from France from Saturday
British tourists are going to be banned from France from Saturday. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

British tourists are going to be banned from France amid concern over the rise in Omicron cases in the UK.

From Saturday morning, France is banning travel to and from the UK without "compelling reasons".

Paris says the "compelling reasons" do not include travel for tourism and business.

The announcement comes after the UK recorded the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 78,610 cases reported on Wednesday.

The previous record was 68,053 during lockdown on 8 January.

French nationals and their spouses are exempt from the new rules.

French officials said they are taking steps to “drastically” restrict travel from the UK due to the Omicron surge.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the French prime minister’s office will make a fuller statement “in the next few hours.”

He confirmed that only French citizens returning from the UK, or British people living in France, will be allowed to come to France.

Those people will have to show a PCR/antigen test less than 24 hours old on arrival.

Other travelles will have to give a "compelling reason" to be allowed to enter the country, but it is unclear what those reasons might be.

People arriving from the UK will have to isolate at a location they choose, their isolation will end after 48 hours if they show a negative test.

It is expected the ban will remain in place for the entire Christmas period at least.

A statement from French officials reads: "In the UK government's own words, the UK is facing a "tidal wave" of the Omicron variant in the coming days.

"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."

Travel firms have reacted angrily to the news.

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

"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?"