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France imposes travel ban on UK – here’s what you need to know about the new rules

France is set to tighten restrictions on UK travelers with a non-essential travel ban on both vaccinated and unvaccinated arrivals from Saturday, with exemptions for French and EU citizens and residents.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading through the UK at an unprecedented rate. On Wednesday the UK recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. In response to the crisis, and amid fears its own public health system could soon be overwhelmed, France is limiting travel from the UK.

Who is included in the travel ban?

From midnight on Saturday, December 18 (11pm GMT on Friday), a ban on non-essential travel from the UK will be imposed. Only returning French or EU citizens and residents and their families will be able to cross the border from the UK, but they will have to present a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within 24 hours of departure.

New testing and self-isolation rules

Anyone arriving into France from the UK who is permitted to travel, and that includes citizens and residents, must get tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours of departure and get tested again when they arrive in France. They’re also required to register their address details on an app, and they must self-isolate for seven days or at least 48 hours if they can produce a negative test result.

“People (returning to France) will have to register on an app and will have to self-isolate in a place of their choosing for seven days—controlled by the security forces—but this can be shortened to 48 hours if a negative test is carried out in France,” government spokesperson Gabrial Attal told BMF Television via Reuters.

Where can I find the app to register my details?

So far no further information has been provided on the digital app that arrivals must register their details through. However, we will update this article when more information is available.

Can British citizens return home from France?

The travel ban does not apply to those traveling in the opposite direction. Anyone who wishes to travel to the UK from France will be able to do so but as per the UK’s rules they must take either an antigen or negative test before traveling there, and they will also have to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving into the UK. That test must be booked in advance.

Why is the ban being introduced?

In a statement, the government said that from Saturday “people cannot travel for tourism or professional reasons,” adding that the British government had itself said that the UK would face “a tidal wave” of new Omicron-driven infections in the coming days.

“As the Omicron variant spreads extremely quickly in the United Kingdom, the French government has decided to re-implement compelling reasons for travels from and to the United Kingdom, and to reinforce mandatory tests at departures and arrivals,” it said.

The French government also asked French citizens to postpone upcoming UK travel plans.

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