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LATEST: France to ban non-essential travel to and from UK and impose quarantine on arrivals

France said Thursday that it would ban non-essential travel to and from Britain in a bid to curb the lightning spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. It also imposed tighter restrictions on those arriving in France from UK.

Truck arrives a Channel Tunnel
LATEST: France imposes stricter test rule and quarantine for all travellers from UK(Photo by DENIS CHARLET / POOL / AFP)

France will impose new rules on travel to and from the UK from Midnight on Friday night (00:00 Saturday) that means travellers will need “an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated.”

The French government has called on residents in France to postpone their travel plans to the UK. 

“We are going to put in place even more drastic testing measures on the border with the UK,” said French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal. 

“Our strategy is to delay as much as we can the development of Omicron in our country and take advantage to push ahead with the booster drive,” he said.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel between France and UK under rules of ‘essential travel’?

The new restrictions apply to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers. 

As well as the ban on non-essential travel (here is a list of what is allowed under essential travel) France also said new testing and quarantine rules would be imposed from Saturday.

Antigen or PCR tests taken within 24 hours before departure will be required for all travellers coming from the UK instead of within 48 hours of boarding.

READ ALSO ‘I don’t understand’: Travellers react with anger and confusion to France’s new entry rules for UK

Everyone entering France from the UK will have to undergo a mandatory self-isolation period of ten days following arrival. The initial rule was a seven day quarantine, but this appears to have been updated.

Source: France Diplomatie

However new arrivals can choose to take a test after arriving in France and if the result is negative they can end self-isolation after 48 hours.

All travellers from the UK will have to enter their details on an online platform before their departure to France. They must mention where they will be staying. Law enforcement authorities will check at the address you have listed to ensure you are not breaking quarantine. 

People without French citizenship or residency, tourists and most second home owners are essentially barred from entering France under the new rules. 

Residents of France and French and EU nationals are free to travel under the rules of essential travel. 

From midnight Saturday (2300 GMT Friday) there will be a “requirement to have an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated… People cannot travel for touristic or professional reasons,” the government said in a statement.

“Faced with the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK, the government has chosen to reinstate the need for an essential reason for travel from and to the UK,” the statement said.

French citizens who want to travel to the UK must also meet the criteria for essential travel, which you can read more about HERE

All travellers from France to the UK are also required to fill in this form before departure. The form suggests that French partners and children of British citizens will be able to travel to the UK.

However, the French government is asking people to postpone their trips and it has said clearly that trips for “tourism and professional” reasons are not allowed. And the French consulate in London have not confirmed to us whether or not French partners of British citizens will be granted entry for a Christmas holiday in the UK. 

The underlying message is that it is going to become far more complicated to enter France from the UK and the move will likely throw Christmas holiday plans into doubt.

Earlier this week the French government had warned that new restrictions were likely.

Both France and the UK are grappling with rising Covid infections.

Whilst the 5th wave appears to be peaking in France, scientists believe a 6th wave, fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, will follow shortly.

There are now at least 170 Omicron cases in France although the real number is likely far higher because not all positive cases are tested for the variant.

In the UK meanwhile, the number of Omicron cases is doubling every two to three days and forced the government to introduce stricter measures such as health passes.

Currently, in order to enter France from the UK, all travellers regardless of their vaccination status must provide a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken within 48 hours of the departure time. This rule applies to all travellers over the age of 12, including French citizens and residents.

Most PCR tests for travel cost roughly double the price of antigen tests but some can be well over 100 euros.

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Member comments

      1. Put more restrictions in place for those coming from the plague island. It’s bad enough putting up with their rugrats marauding around the shops in the summer, but at Christmas, it’s just tantamount to torture.😛

        1. Omicron is already all over Europe, so making it more difficult for a few Brits isn’t going to make any difference, other than trashing the French tourist industry even more.

          1. Offensive comments Boggy. Some of us have visited France regularly for 50yrs, not just in the summer, contributing in lots of ways, experiencing welcome and spreading the love of it.

          2. The French tourist industry is healthy. Why is it you British seem to think we depend you people to visit us? I hate to burst your small bubbles but we have a healthy local tourist industry supported by other countries excluding Britain.

            @dave.cheesmond. What’s offensive about telling the truth. Whoops sorry. Ones not allowed to do that any more is one.😲😛

          3. Didn’t you know, the British is special, the whole world needs them to support their hospitality sectors, it’s only the british that travel, you never see Germans in Spain on the sun loungers….ooops.

          4. I wish I could confirm your remarks. I own a small hotel in Megeve and have just had half of my Christmas and New Year booking cancelled. Brits make up around 70% of all my booking. This move by the French Gov will hit us hard. A sad day for France!

        2. I live both in France & in England and have many friends in the French tourist industry who have suffered so very greatly and continue to suffer during this pandemic. The last thing they need is more isolationism. The world doesn’t need isolationism – that is what leads to war.

  1. I havent been out of my house since 9th Dec and dont plan to until I have to go for my pre daparture test on the 21st.
    I really want to see loved ones in France at Xmas

    1. I hope you make it to France for Xmas. I decided against travelling to France this Xmas, having had Macron close the borders just hours before I was due to board the ferry.

  2. Great, so now my xmas is ruined and I get to spend the holidays alone.
    Talk about over reaction and closing the stable doors after the horse has bolted.

  3. What about British nationals living in France with their families? Still able to travel to UK for Christmas to visit extended family? Does that count as ‘tourism’? This article isn’t clear about that. Can Brits and family members with titre de sejour still travel freely, just with all the test, quarantine, etc?

    1. For heaven’s sake, use some intelligence and common sense. You can still get to the UK, but getting back could be a problem. If you are not sure, don’t go.

      1. You’re rude and need not reply again.
        I am American, my husband is British, our children are American. We all reside in France with proper titre de sejour. We can most certainly get back from England into France. What I don’t understand from the rules is whether we can get into England. Can British people’s family members also travel into England from France? Would be nice to see the grandparents that we haven’t seen in two years.

      2. Please keep all comments polite. Despite difference of opinion we don’ want the comments section to descend into insults and abuse and personal arguments. Thanks. Ben

  4. Remember that the British imposed the same requirements on Europeans visiting the UK two weeks ago. Pre departure PCR test, mandatory quarantine until a second PCR test comes back negative…

    Honestly, the virus is already everywhere. Borders should be reopened and the onus should be down to the individuals to get vaccinated and take care.

  5. Might make our two day drive to our new house in the Pyrenees difficult. Do we just not stop on the way down? Can I put ‘Snoozing in a layby’ as my overnight accommodation then? 🙂

  6. This is purely a political move by Emmanuel Bonaparte, Omicron makes up a higher percentage of French cases than in the UK and he’s quite happy to export Omicron to the UK via Calais beaches.

    1. Rubbish. It’s a wonder you haven’t accused him of doing it because of getting his own back for Brexit. We are happy to be rid of the migrants, wouldn’t you be.

      1. Well, now that you mention it, he is bitter and twisted over that too. I don’t blame france for letting the migrants go, it’s just double standards when france fails to uphold their own maritime laws but takes a pop at the UK for not doing enough.

  7. Well that is very sad for French businesses, and families trying to meet up or just have a nice holiday. It is not surprising though, given the panic language used by the UK’s Government and MPs in exaggerating the Omicron risks, and ignoring the real data from South Africa. As with all the previous dire UK predictions, they grossly overstate the risks (either to try to win lost by-elections, or to justify extreme lockdown measures). Remember ‘half a million UK deaths’ from Ferguson in 2020? Hope it stops UK MPs enjoying their holidays, but I somehow doubt it…

  8. Anyone have an idea how the isolation works? We would normally break the 14 hour journey from Calais to our home in SW France with an overnight stay. Is this permitted? How would it be factored into any check on our presence at our home address? Even of we test in Calais on arrival we still need time to get home safely. This is the one part I don’t quote understand

  9. If we believe what the politicians tell us (a big if, I acknowledge) about the spread of the Omigod scariant, why not just shut the French borders? It might slow down the spread of Omigod in France, although from what we hear, it will spread anyway. Would it be too cynical to suspect politics at play between Macron and the Buffoon again?

  10. Anyone know how to get your US administered booster added to your pass sanitare/tous anticovide app? If you’re over 65 your pass expires without proof of booster….

  11. So – I’m confused about the rules. As a British passport holder, with the right to remain in France, can I effectively circumvent these rules – relying on the first exemption when traveling to the UK and my residency / employment in France when returning? Or does the “returning to their country” in the first exemption effectively exclude those now permanently resident in France?

    1. As we interpret it you will be fine to travel given your UK nationality. But all my depend on the border guards. we’ll soon find out and keep you posted.

  12. In support of Sharon Willingham, this is a key point for those of us elderly Brit residents (with our titres de sejour) in the south west. Travelling by car from Calais, may we have or not have a night’s stopover in an hebergement as part of our isolation, as well as a normal part of the long journey to home in Occitanie or elsewhere equivalent?

  13. I am a student studying in Paris and I am returning home to the UK on Saturday evening. Does my antigen test have to be taken now within 24 hrs of flight departure or is it still 48hrs?

  14. On the latest form issued by the French government for travellers wanting to go to Britain after tomorrow (18th), the following wording of the first of the ‘motifs imperieux’ seems to suggest that you CAN leave France for Britain if you live in France but your country of origin in Britain – and that your partner can accompany you even if they do not hold a British passport. Can anyone confirm if this is the case (according to the wording in French)?

    Attestation de sortie du territoire metropolitain vers le royaume uni:

    Je certifie que mon motif de déplacement correspond à l’un des motifs impérieux suivants.
    Ressortissant français ou étranger rejoignant son pays de résidence ou d’origine (sans garantie de retour sur le territoire français, sauf motif impérieux), ainsi que son conjoint (marié, pacsé et concubin) et ses enfants.

    NB : no ‘pièces exigibles’ are listed for this category of motif, which presumably means that if in fact you are asked to prove your eligibility for this category, you can show your passport if you have a British one, and if you are the non-British conjoint you just have show that you are the British passport holder’s partner.

  15. Does anyone please know how or where it is planned that you can get a test to release on return to France at 48hours to reduce the 10 days quarantine? My pharmacie does travel tests but presumably it would need to be recorded in some way if you were driving to get a test whilst quarantined.

  16. Can US citizens with permanent residence ( living and working in Paris ) travel back to US to visit without a problem returning to France ?

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TRAVEL NEWS

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

With travel opening up, many people are planning trips to France over the next few months, but the Covid pandemic has not gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you do fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

Travel rules

Covid-related travel rules have mostly been relaxed now but you will still need to show proof of being fully vaccinated at the French border. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test – find the full breakdown of the rules HERE.

Testing

Once in France if you develop symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will need to get a Covid test.

The good news is that testing is widely available in France, both for residents and tourists.

The easiest way to get a test is head to a pharmacy, most of which offer the rapid-result antigen test on a walk-in basis Tests are available to everyone who wants one, there is no need to fulfill any set criteria.

For full details on how to get a test, and some handy French vocab, click HERE.

The difference for tourists is that you will have to pay for your test, while residents get their costs reimbursed by the French state health system.

In the pharmacy you may be asked for your carte vitale – this is the health card that residents use to claim refunds. As a tourist you won’t have the card – you can still get the test, you will just need to pay for it. Costs vary between pharmacies but are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

Isolation

If your test is positive you are legally required to isolate, but how long your isolation period is depends on the your vaccination stats – full details HERE.

Treatment

For most fully-vaccinated people without underlying health conditions the symptoms of Covid are fairly mild, but if you do become ill, here’s how to access medical help while in France.

Pharmacy – one of the first things you will notice about France is that pharmacies are everywhere, just look out for the green cross. As well as selling over-the-counter medication, pharmacies all have at least one fully-qualified pharmacist on the staff who can offer medical advice. 

Take advantage of pharmacists – they train for at least six years so they’re very knowledgeable and they’re easy to access by simply walking into the shop. In tourist areas it’s likely that they will speak English. Pharmacists can also signpost you to a nearby doctor if you need extra help.

Doctors – if you need to see a doctor, look out for a médecin généraliste (a GP or family doctor). There is no need to be registered with a doctor, simply call up and ask for an appointment if you need one. If you have a smartphone you can use the medical app Doctolib to find a généraliste in your area who speaks English. You will need to pay for your consultation – €25 is the standard charge and you pay the doctor directly using either cash or a debit card.

You may be able to claim back the cost later on your own health/travel insurance depending on the policy.

Ambulance – if you are very sick or have difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance – the number is 15. All non-residents are entitled to emergency treatment in France, whether or not you have insurance, but if you are admitted or have treatment you may need to pay later.

READ ALSO Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Paxlovid – several readers have asked whether the Covid treatment drug Paxlovid is available in France. It was licenced for use in February 2022 and is available on prescription from pharmacies, mainly for people with underlying health conditions or an impaired immune system. You can get a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The drug is reimbursed for French residents, but as a tourist you will have to pay.

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