France is to ban UK tourists from Saturday 18 December. New rules will apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers
Only those with a “compelling reason” will be allowed to travel between the two countries under new measures, even if they are fully vaccinated.
From midnight on Saturday, leisure travel will be off the table - at present, double-jabbed British arrivals are allowed in for any purpose.
The list of “compelling reasons” does not include “travel for tourist or professional reasons,” according to a statement issued by the French government.
However, French citizens and their spouses, partners and children will still be able to return to France from the UK.
For those who are travelling for “essential” reasons, testing requirements are also tightening up, with UK arrivals required to take a Covid
test 24 hours before departure instead of the current 48.
Those from the UK who are permitted entry must register on a digital platform prior to their trip, where they’ll have to record the address of the place they are staying.
All UK arrivals must quarantine, although they may leave isolation after 48 hours subject to taking a second Covid
test and receiving a negative result.
The French government is also calling on travellers who had planned to visit the UK from France to postpone their trip.
“Tourism or business travel for people who are not resident in France will be restricted from Saturday,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told French media earlier today, adding that “essential reasons” for travelling to France would include residency or having family in the country.
The UK’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted that he has “liaised with my French counterpart @Djebbari_JB and hauliers will remain exempt” from the new restrictions.
Travel industry insiders in the UK have called the move a “hammer blow”.
ABTA Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “Reports that France is to introduce a temporary ban on most travel from the UK will come as a hammer blow to the winter travel industry, which is already under extreme pressure following the new omicron restrictions.
“The winter sports and school travel markets are particularly exposed, and the government must now bring forward a support package if we are not to see company failures and job losses.
“The travel and tourism sector has had little chance to generate income since early 2020 and is now faced with another wave of cancellations. Travel businesses have reported turnover at just 22 per cent of pre-pandemic levels following two years of government-imposed restrictions and consumer confidence in overseas travel has been hit hard.”