BRITS have been banned from entering France unless they can prove they have a “compelling reason,” from Monday.
The foreign ministry said France is re-introducing strict rules on arrivals from the UK who are not French residents in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially the Indian variant.
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While the ministry did not specify what would count as a “compelling reason”, the french government had previously said that family, health or professional reasons could be acceptable, reports France24.
Back in March, France had relaxed the rules for Brits and other EU citizens.
But starting Monday “compelling reasons will be required for non-EU foreigners who are not residents in France and who come to France from the United Kingdom”, the ministry said in a statement.
However, the ministry added that there would be “no systematic checks” to ensure compliance with the requirement, “given the low incidence of Covid in Britain”.
“There is a new situation with the progression of the so-called Indian variant in the United Kingdom,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal. “(France) will set up compulsory isolation for people coming from the United Kingdom.”
It comes just days after France added the UK to its mandatory quarantine list with arrivals from the UK being required to self-isolate for seven days over fears of the Indian variant.
France had previously warned the UK of potential travelling restrictions due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.
It had said the country would not introduce an outright ban but would ensure extra measures would be in place.
French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio: “We worry about the Indian variant and we remain on high alert regarding that matter, in co-operation with British authorities.”
“We hope that the variant can be controlled in a country which experienced real failures during the pandemic.
“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.”
The French government’s announcement will have a great impact on the tourism industry, which is desperate for a return to normalcy ahead of the summer season.
“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.”
Currently France has only full vaccinated 15.4 per cent of its population and administered 34.3m jabs in total, according to Our World in Data.
Previously Austria announced a ban on direct flights from the UK.
Only Austrian citizens and residents will be allowed into the country from the United Kingdom from June 1.
Germany was the first to place a travel ban on the UK over Covid variant fears.
In the UK the NHS has been urged to speed up the coronavirus vaccine roll out and try to give as many second doses as soon as possible as the spread of the Indian variant accelerates.
The number of cases of B1617.2 rose by 3,535 over the last week to 6,959 and “hospitalisations are rising” in some of the affected areas – with Bolton, Bedford and Blackburn with Darwen being the worst hit.