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The UK government said late Wednesday it will ease entry rules requiring arrivals from France to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated, following its latest review of travel curbs.
The change — which will come into effect at 4am (0300 GMT) on Sunday — puts France back on England's so-called amber list of countries under its traffic light system that governs rules for arriving travellers.
The government last month eased the rules to allow people from amber countries fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by regulators in the US and EU to enter without having to self-isolate.
However, arrivals from France were the exception.
Britain said it acted over fears about the prevalence of the Beta strain, even though it mainly affected France's overseas territories, particularly La Reunion.
But furious officials in Paris called the move “discriminatory".
France now rejoins dozens of other countries on the amber list — including many EU members and the US — which mandates virus tests before and after arrival for those vaccinated in those territories.
Others must self-isolate at home for 10 days.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will be moved to amber after being on the red list, which requires a costly 10-day hotel quarantine on arrival.
Other changes to the rules — which are reviewed every three weeks — will have Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway added to the green list.
Travellers in that designation must take Covid-19 tests before and after entering England, regardless of their vaccination status, and do not have to self-isolate.
Meanwhile, Georgia, Mexico and France's Indian Ocean territories of La Reunion and Mayotte will be moved on to the red list.
“We are committed to opening up international travel safely,” Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.
“While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public.”
The UK government in London determines health and travel policy for England.
The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland governments set their own rules, though they have broadly adopted the same measures.
Britain has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with 130,000 deaths within 28 days of a positive test since the outbreak began.
But the government has gradually eased restrictions as vaccination numbers increased, cutting numbers of Covid hospital admissions.
Some 88.7 per cent of all adults have now had a first dose, and 73.2 per cent have received two doses, the latest government figures show.