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Saturday 18 December 2021

Stay away: France closes to the door to Brits

Bad news for any British passport holders hoping to enjoy Christmas in France.

The door is shut from now on.

And it has nothing to do with Brexit, French officials insist.

France has imposed travel restrictions on travellers from Britain due to surging Covid-19 cases there as plans for Christmas celebrations have been thrown into disarray by the rapid spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant, which emerged in Hong Kong and southern Africa last month.

The French Government has said that only certain categories of travellers, including truck drivers, would be allowed between the two countries. Anyone arriving from Britain would have to self-isolate.

"Our goal is to limit as much as possible the spread of Omicron across our territory," French Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said. "Tourism and business travel for people who are not French nationals or Europeans, people who are not French residents, will be limited."

Officials at Dover said France's new travel curbs had dampened already significantly reduced tourist numbers.

Tourism industry body AITO has called for a rescue package for the sector as it said the French ban on travel will have a “devastating effect”.

Chris Rowles, the AITO chairman, told Travel Weekly the ban was an “extremely unwelcome pre-Christmas gift”.

“It is a simply devastating situation for the UK’s travel industry, destroying as it does both long-planned Christmas holidays and the many ski businesses which operate in French ski resorts,” he said.

“Pent-up demand from UK-based skiers unable to travel last winter has meant that bookings were at higher-than-normal levels this Christmas/New Year, to add insult to injury.

“Now operators are having to contact thousands of would-be skiers/other UK holidaymakers to explain that travel for holiday purposes, regardless of vaccination status, is not considered an ‘essential reason’ for travel by the French Government and is therefore banned with effect from this Saturday.”

Pointing out that French and EU nationals, and residents in France, are exempt from this rule, he added: “Unfortunately, this seems very much like a French ‘tit for tat’ Brexit-related rebuttal.

Image: Andreas Steidlinger (Scopio) 

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