France locks the doors: British travellers must show ‘compelling reason’ to enter the country from TODAY as Macron battles to keep Indian variant at bay
- UK travellers will have to provide ‘compelling reasons’ to enter France today
- Travel to be permitted for EU nationals, French residents or essential reasons
- Arrivals must take pre-departure Covid test and quarantine for seven days
- France is currently listed as an ‘amber’ destination by the UK Government
British travellers will have to provide ‘compelling reasons’ to enter France from today as President Emmanuel Macron battles to suppress the Indian variant.
Travel from the UK will only be permitted for EU nationals, French residents or those travelling for essential reasons such as bereavement or childcare.
Those who are allowed to make the journey must take a pre-departure Covid test and quarantine for seven days on arrival.
The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the new French rules apply to all air, car, ferry and train passengers.
France is currently listed as an ‘amber’ destination by the UK Government, which means people are being advised against travelling there – while those who do must self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests on return.
Stricter rules for visitors from the UK were first raised by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last week amid concern over the Indian variant.
An explanation of the new rules on the website of the Consulate General of France in London said: ‘Given the development of the so-called Indian variant, health measures have been tightened for people travelling to France from the UK.’
It added that from this morning ‘compelling reasons will be required for foreign nationals outside the EU not resident in France to travel to France from the UK’.
The website said ‘a PCR or antigen test less than 48 hours old will be required from anyone travelling to France from the UK’ while on arrival ‘travellers are obliged to self-isolate for seven days’.
The information added that ‘due to the low incidence of coronavirus in the UK, for the moment they will not be subject to systematic checks where they are staying’.
France’s move follows Austria, which said on Tuesday it was banning UK direct flights and tourists, and Germany, which said on Friday that anyone entering from the UK would have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
It comes as France yesterday reported the number of people in intensive care units with Covid-19 fell by 35 to 2,993, while the overall number of people in hospital with the disease fell by 72 to 16,775.
While reporting 8,541 new cases, the health ministry also announced 44 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals and said there had been 150,026 vaccinations over the past 24 hours.
French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks in front of French nationals at the French Ambassador residence in Pretoria
It comes as France reported the number of people in intensive care units with Covid-19 fell by 35 to 2,993, while the overall number of people in hospital with the disease fell by 72 to 16,775
Other European nations have welcomed British holidaymakers back to their beaches with open arms. Pictured: The 20 European destinations which will allow Britons to visit without needed to quarantine on arrival
Travellers entering France from outside the EU, including the UK, have to sign a sworn declaration that they do not have Covid symptoms and that they are not aware of being in contact with someone with the disease in the 14 days before their journey.
As well as proof of the negative pre-departure test for those aged 11 and over, a sworn declaration to self-isolate on arrival in France for seven days must also be made and a second PCR test taken after the quarantine.
The consulate website said that people who had been vaccinated remain subject to the same rules, adding that people are ‘strongly advised’ to keep international travel ‘to a minimum’.
France placed the UK on its version of the ‘amber list’, meaning arrivals face isolation, supervised by police, with fines of between €1,000 and €1,500 for breaking the rules.
The country follows Austria, which said on Tuesday it was banning direct flights and tourist visits from Britain, and Germany, which said on Friday that anyone entering from the UK would have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
Britain joins a list of 15 countries already on France’s mandatory quarantine list – including Brazil, India, Argentina and Turkey.
Portugal and Gibraltar are on Britain’s quarantine-free green list. Those coming back from European destinations on the amber list face having to quarantine for 10 days in Britain.
The French government’s announcement is a blow to parts of the beleaguered tourism industry, which is desperate for a return to normal business ahead of the peak summer season.
How coronavirus cases per million people compare in the UK and France from March 2020 to May 2021
Portugal is the only major tourist destination on Britain’s ‘green list’, meaning people can go without the need to quarantine
‘The public deserve better’: Tory MPs demand shake up of Border Force and call for it to ‘step up and do its job properly’ amid fears millions of holidays may be scuppered because staff won’t be able to cope with influx of travellers
Tory MPs have today turned on Border Force amid fears popular holiday islands in Europe will remain on the amber list after June 3.
Henry Smith, whose constituency includes Gatwick, and former Brexit minister Steve Baker both took swipes at the agency after it emerged holidays face being scuppered because staff cannot cope with an influx of travellers.
Mr Smith said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ and said it was time the officials ‘stepped up and did their job properly’.
Mr Baker said Britain needs a ‘scaled up’ Border Force the ‘public deserve’ and called for a cross-government Minister of State for the Border.
Meanwhile Labour MP Ian Mearns pinned the blame on the government, saying it is an ‘utter failure to properly plan to meet the needs of the aspirational datelines for the reopening of the economy’.
Popular islands in Europe including the Balearics, Ibiza and Mallorca may stay on the amber list after June 3 if officials are unable to process the incoming passengers.
Though some island destinations – such as Malta and some Greek and Caribbean islands – are expected to be added to the green list, the Spanish islands face being left off the list due to fears over high infection rates.
With holiday hotspots possibly remaining on the amber list, which means people have to quarantine at home upon arrival, millions of trips overseas this summer could be scuppered.
Government insiders said there were particular concerns over the Balearics because of the higher rate of traffic it has with the mainland compared with other islands.
If left on the green list, thousands more travellers would likely fly to the islands – causing stretched Border Force officials to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of UK arrivals.
‘It’s reasonable in terms of saving the French summer but will be very punishing for those regions which depend on British holidaymakers,’ said Ge Kusters, owner of Le Paradis campsite in the Dordogne area and president of the regional campsite union.
‘More financial support is going to have to follow.’
The isolation will need to last seven days, Clement Beaune, France’s junior minister for European Affairs, said on Twitter, adding visitors would also need to present a Covid-19 test carried out less than 48 hours before departure.
British tourists had been due to be allowed to visit France without restrictions from June 9 if they carried a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative PCR test.
Some 13 million Britons visited France every year before the coronavirus crisis began in early 2020, more than any other nationality, according to official data.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had raised the possibility of tougher restrictions for British tourists on Sunday.
He suggested the UK could be put in a health category of its own, somewhere in between the strictest measures that France is imposing on visitors from India and 15 other countries, and more relaxed requirements being readied for visitors from the EU and some other countries.
Without giving specifics, Mr Le Drian said there was potential for ‘health measures that are a bit stronger’ but Paris is watching the progress of the Indian variant before making final decisions.
‘We hope that the variant can be controlled in a country which experienced real failures during the pandemic,’ he said.
‘However, the arrival of the Indian variant and the increase of cases of Indian variant in the United Kingdom pose a problem and so we are vigilant about this (and) in contact with the British authorities,’ he added.
‘It won’t be the red treatment if we have to do it. It will be an intermediate treatment,’ the minister said.
‘But it is not excluded – this springs to mind because of British tourists – that we have health measures that are a bit stronger.’
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said: ‘France’s decision to quarantine UK travellers in response to the Indian variant is a stark reminder of the unpredictability of international travel this year.
‘People would have already been confused about what travel is safe and permitted due to the country’s status on the UK’s amber list, and this announcement will cause even more stress for those with an upcoming booking.
‘Many will be surprised to find that changing entry requirements and mandatory quarantine at your destination won’t always trigger a refund, especially for flights.
‘This demonstrates just how important it is for anyone thinking about booking a trip in the next few months to do so with a holiday company that has the most flexible booking policies available, so they are protected against significant disruption to travel plans that can often occur at short notice.’
Some 13 million Britons had visited France every year before the coronavirus crisis began in early 2020.
Other European nations have since welcomed British holidaymakers back to their beaches with open arms.
Travellers will soon be able to visit 20 destinations on the Continent without having to quarantine upon arrival – despite 18 of those welcoming sun-seekers still being on the ‘amber list.’
Spain has lifted its restrictions on travellers from the UK, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying: ‘Spain will be delighted, very delighted to welcome all British tourists’.
The popular holiday hotspot joins Italy, Greece and Cyprus in permitting Britons to arrive without quarantine.
However, if tourists do decide to travel to these ‘amber list’ destinations, they will need to self-isolate for 10 days and get tested twice upon their return to the UK.
Heathrow chief says Government should reveal which countries will make it onto holiday green list to protect British tourists from shortage of flights and soaring prices
The boss of Heathrow Airport has urged the government to reveal its green list of summer holiday destinations to save families from the misery of soaring prices and reduced options.
John Holland-Kaye warned that keeping the list of safe destinations for July and August under wraps would lead to operators scaling back on scheduled flights which would lead to a huge rise in seat prices.
He pointed to popular destinations such as Spain and its Balearic islands where Covid infections are low, suggesting they were ‘coming into the green zone’ but may not be announced for weeks.
There are only 12 locations that have so far been added to the green list, but Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland are seen as actual holiday destinations.
There is set to be an expansion of the list on June 7, with Jamaica, Finland, and the Canary Islands seen as possibilities, although Boris Johnson has warned that the list will not expand ‘very rapidly’.
Heathrow Airport’s chief executive has urged the government to reveal its green list of summer holiday destinations to save families from the misery of soaring prices and reduced options
John Holland-Kaye warned that keeping the list of safe destinations for July and August under wraps would lead to operators scaling back on scheduled flights which would lead to a huge rise in seat prices
Mainland European destinations such as Spain, France and Italy are also expected to be much further off.
Mr Holland-Kaye told the Telegraph: ‘I fear the Government is going to drag its feet on Spain. I think that will be a mistake and the reason for that is that very few people are flying in spite of all the hype we see.
‘From the week before travel opened up with the first green countries, we went from 7,000 passengers departing a week to between 10,000 and 11,000. People were being very disciplined and following the guidance.
Currently there are only 12 destinations on the government’s ‘green list’
‘If we don’t put Spain on the list soon, then people will face a dilemma. Do I not go on holiday at all and face another rainy summer in the UK? Or do I break the rules and go to an amber country against guidance? People don’t want to break the rule
The chief executive said the government ought to be doing holidaymakers ‘a service’ by giving them enough warning that Spain, while not given the green list next week, will be possible in July.
But if the government leaves an announcement until June ‘it will be too late’.
It comes as a report from the CEBR economic forecasting group warned that the UK is set to miss out on billions of pounds of spending from passengers arriving into Heathrow if the green list is not extended as part of the upcoming travel review.
Business and leisure passengers arriving at the airport are estimated to spend over £16 billion a year across the UK, sustaining jobs at thousands of businesses.
US visitors travelling through Heathrow are the largest source of inbound tourism revenue for the economy, with these passengers accounting for £3.74 billion, said the report.
There is a risk that US visitors could go elsewhere, as countries such as Italy and France prepare to welcome them back, it was warned.
Paul Charles, chief executive at The PC Agency, included Grenada, Morocco and Finland as green on his unofficial traffic light system based on current infection rates and the percentage of people who have been vaccinated
Mr Holland-Kaye said the government ought to be doing holidaymakers ‘a service’ by giving them enough warning that Spain, while not given the green list next week, will be possible in July
The report was published as Heathrow is working with the Government to launch a dedicated red list arrivals facility, creating more capacity for arrivals from an expanded green list.
The facility will be launched on June 1 in Terminal 3 before being moved to Terminal 4.
John Holland-Kaye said: ‘This research shows just how many businesses across the UK are losing out because of the Government’s restrictions on access to overseas visitors and markets.
‘The Government has the tools to protect both public health and the economy and ministers must unlock more low-risk destinations across Europe, as well as the US, as part of the next review on June 7.’
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