France lifts ban on UK holidaymakers in boost for travel

Thousands of people in the UK who have booked ski holidays in France will now be able to travel

Passengers queue to board Eurostar trains to France at St. Pancras International station in December. Reuters
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France will let in travellers from Britain who are vaccinated against Covid-19 without having to self-isolate or to offer a valid reason for the trip.

Travellers will continue to need evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure, the French government added on Thursday. The measures will take effect as from Friday morning.

France had tightened entry conditions for people coming from Britain in December, when the coronavirus Omicron variant was raging in the UK but had not yet hit France.

The number of daily new infections has since reached record levels in both countries but seems to be past its peak in Britain, while that is not yet the case in France.

The easing of the restrictions also comes as governments around the world try to balance keeping the Covid virus in check while ensuring that important parts of their economies, such as tourism and leisure, are not too badly hurt.

"Given the prevalence of the Omicron variant both in France and in Britain, the government had decided to relax specific health control measures at borders that had been put in place in last December for vaccinated travellers coming from Britain," the French Prime Minister's office said in a statement.

"Those measures had been decided when the epidemic was spreading spectacularly in Britain while France was still relatively preserved in the face of the Omicron wave."

Non-vaccinated people coming from Britain will have to show proof of an essential reason for the trip and observe a strict 10-day quarantine at the place they stay at in France, which they also have to detail on a dedicated platform.

Cross-Channel train operator Eurostar said it will ramp up its services following the end of France’s ban on UK holidaymakers.

Two skiers talk as others ride down a slope at Val Thorens ski resort, in the French Alps. AFP

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “We welcome the safe reduction of travel restrictions which will allow our customers to travel more freely between the UK and France.

“We are ready to welcome more passengers on board and will continue to increase the frequency of our services in the coming weeks to offer passengers more flexibility and choice.”

Responding to France’s decision to end the ban on UK tourists, Chris Logan, managing director of Britain’s biggest winter sports operator Crystal Ski, said: “Like the rest of the ski community, I’m delighted we’ll be able to hit the slopes in France once again.

“It’s been a challenging start to the season with Switzerland and France both imposing short-term bans, and complex and ever-changing testing requirements.

“But with the relaxation of UK testing and the Alps open to the UK again, I’m feeling really optimistic.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in searches and bookings in the last two weeks.

“Bookings to France doubled yesterday even before the announcement and we would expect to see another very positive uptick now it’s official.

“The outlook is good, there are great deals available, so now is the time to book.”

Updated: January 13, 2022, 12:02 PM