French PM warns of UK travel ban over coronavirus

France could stop British travellers from entering the country if Britain fails to lockdown to battle the coronavirus, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday.

French PM warns of UK travel ban over coronavirus
Photo: AFP

He said if Britain did not take similar measures to France then “we would find it hard to accept on our territory British citizens who move freely in their own country and then come to France”.

France began a lockdown on Tuesday set to last at least two weeks that prohibits all non-essential travelling.

Britain has yet to adopt such measures with schools remaining open and travel largely unrestricted but it has advised its citizens against all unnecessary travel abroad, including France.

“If we want to be coherent, we need all those who are inside the European zone to adopt methods and processes that are coherent to fight against the epidemic. Italy, France and Spain have chosen confinement,” said Philippe.

The EU is imposing an entry ban to its territory for an initial period of 30 days but it is not due to affect citizens of former EU member Britain or non-EU members of the passport-free Schengen zone.

Coronavirus in France: What should tourists do?

British tourists currently in France are concerned about being able to get home now that France is in lockdown with people ordered to stay home but for essential reasons.

Travel is currently heavily restricted, trains are running a reduced service and there are roadblocks on major and secondary routes with police checking if you are entitled to travel.

That said, there is an exemption for tourists who are travelling to a port/airport with the purpose of going home, France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner confirmed.

If you decide to head to the ports, you will need to download a copy of the official travel form – more detail on how to fill that in here.

Travel to a port/airport is not one of categories to tick, but you can write on it Je rentre au Royaume-Uni/  aux Etas-Uni en voiture / par avion (aeroport de: ville) / par train – I am returning to the UK/ the USA by car/ by air (name the airport you are flying from) / by train.

If you are travelling by train check on the SNCF website before you travel, the number of trains running has been reduced and is set to be cut further in the coming days.

The same is true for flights, ferries and the Eurostar. Apart from border restrictions (see below) passenger numbers have collapsed so transport operators are cancelling many services rather than run empty.

The Channel Tunnel is for the moment operating normally, but again check before you travel.


Member comments

  1. Why wait? Do it now. The court jester thinks this is all a joke. Schools still open, no restrictions on groups and catering establishments still open. The UK is a breeding ground for the virus.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.