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Covid-19: France to close borders to all non-EU arrivals
29 January 2021, 20:55 | Updated: 30 January 2021, 00:17
France is to close its borders to people arriving from outside the European Union from Sunday in a bid to stop the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the measure on Friday night after an emergency government health security meeting at the presidential palace, warning of a "great risk" from the new variants.
All those arriving from other EU countries will be required to produce a negative Covid-19 test, he said.
But lorry drivers will not be affected by the decision, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Mr Shapps insisted that trade would continue to "flow smoothly" across the Channel despite the new measures.
He tweeted: "French PM Jean Castex has announced that France is to close its borders to all countries outside the EU from Sunday.
"However, I can confirm that this does NOT apply to hauliers, so trade will continue to flow smoothly."
France will also close all large shopping centres from Sunday and limit travel to and from its overseas territories.
Mr Castex ordered increased police checks of those who violate France's 12-hour-a-day curfew, hold secret parties or reopen restaurants in defiance of a closure order in place since October.
Virus infections, hospital admissions and deaths have been rising steadily but not sharply in recent weeks.
Many doctors have been urging a new nationwide shutdown like those imposed in several other European countries.
Mr Castex said the measures are an attempt to avoid the economic cost of a third lockdown.
Currently, more than 60% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients. France has reported more than 75,000 deaths, the seventh highest in the world.