As the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to spread, France has announced new travel restrictions in an effort to contain the virus. Starting on Friday night, no one will be allowed to travel between France and Britain except for a few specific cases. These restrictions come just days after the British government said it did not believe tighter border measures were effective when the Omicron variant has spread so widely already.
The new rules announced by Paris mean that the only people allowed to travel from France to Britain are British nationals returning home, people attending a funeral of a close relative, people traveling for medical reasons, people carrying out essential work, and some other exceptional cases. Under the new rules, people are only allowed to travel from Britain to France if they have a negative PCR or antigen test not older than 24 hours.
Once travelers arrive in France, they will have to self-isolate for seven days, though isolation will be lifted after 48 hours if a test conducted in France is negative. That restriction until now applied only to non-vaccinated travelers from Britain. Once the self-isolation period has passed and no symptoms of COVID-19 infection emerge, it will be safe for them to leave their temporary residence and travel anywhere else in France without restrictions. Currently the only possible symptom of COVID-19 infection is labored breathing; other symptoms may emerge later as the virus continues to mutate and evolve.
The French government also confirmed that these new restrictions will not apply to truck drivers, who will still be able to travel between Britain and France. This is a response to concerns from the transport industry that they would need more time for processing the large number of people going back and forth in a short period of time.
On Thursday morning a Reuters photographer spotted several miles of trucks queuing up on the main road into the British port of Dover, the busiest departure point for maritime journeys to France. It was not clear what the cause was. The Port of Dover authorities said future tighter border controls would only further dampen already significantly reduced tourist numbers. They point out that once travelers have made it across the English Channel, they are unlikely to turn around and go back again immediately because it is both expensive and time-consuming.
The latest figures released on Wednesday showed new COVID-19 infections in the United Kingdom reached the highest daily level since the early 2020 start of the pandemic, with more than 78,000 reported. France on Wednesday reported 65,713 new coronavirus infections over 24 hours, bringing total cases in France since the start of the epidemic to 8.4 million. Total deaths in France since the start of the epidemic reached 120,983.
France continues its travel restrictions amid Omicron concerns.