In response to spiking Omicron cases in the UK, the French government has announced that it will bring in further restrictions on travellers from the UK to curb the spread of Omicron across borders.
With Omicron expected to usher in more Covid cases in the coming days as governments warned of a “tsunami” of cases and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots to limit social interactions to three households in the run-up to Christmas.
France’s tougher restrictions on UK travel come only a week after the country issued a last minute change to entry guidelines, requiring a negative PCR or lateral flow test from all UK travellers regardless of vaccination status or nationality carried out less than 48h hours prior to departure.
Here's how the France-UK travel restrictions have changed following the French government’s announcement on Thursday (December 16) and what the new rules on UK travel to France are.
What are the new France-UK travel rules?
The new France-UK travel restrictions will see the previous requirement on UK travellers to provide a negative PCR or lateral flow test within 48 hours of departure tightened.
From this weekend, negative Covid tests required from UK travellers trying to enter France will now have to be carried out less than 24 hours of their departure, instead of within 48 hours.
The French government will only allow UK travellers with “essential reasons” for travelling to France into the country from this weekend and enforce a mandatory seven day isolation period on these travellers also.
When do the France-UK travel restrictions take effect?
The new France-UK travel restrictions will come into effect at midnight on Friday in France and 11pm UK time.
The announcement comes after the UK recorded its highest daily coronavirus case numbers on Wednesday (December 15) as 78,610 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the latest 24 hour period and Omicron cases in Scotland almost doubled to 562 cases as of Wednesday.
Response to France’s new UK travel restrictions so far
French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal confirmed the new France-UK travel restrictions on French tv network, BFM TV, on Thursday morning.
"We will put in place a system of controls drastically tighter than the one we have today,” Mr Attal said in his statement this morning.
"We will reduce the validity of the test to come to France from 48 hours to 24 hours.
"We will limit the reasons for coming to France from the UK, it will be limited to French nationals and residents and their families.
"Tourism or business trips for people who do not have French or European nationality or are residents will be limited.
Mr Attal added that: "People will have to register on an app ... and will have to self-isolate in a place of their choosing for seven days - controlled by the security forces - but this can be shortened to 48 hours if a negative test is carried out in France."
The French government spokesperson said that the tougher travel measures were being imposed in order to “delay as much as we can the development of Omicron in our country and take advantage to push ahead with the booster drive”.
In response, Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told the Press Association: "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?”
Additional reporting by PA