France is introducing tougher rules for travellers from the UK in an attempt to counter the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, a government spokesman has said.
From midnight on Friday, people arriving from Britain will be required to show a negative Covid test that is less than 24 hours old, to test again upon arrival and self-isolate for seven days, although that can be reduced to 48 hours if the second test is negative.
Tourism trips will be limited.
In a statement, the French government said it is taking the measures as the UK is facing a “tidal wave” of Omicron cases.
Spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM television: “We will put in place a system of controls drastically tighter than the one we have today.
“We will reduce the validity of the test to come to France from 48 hours to 24 hours.
“We will limit the reasons for coming to France from the UK – it will be limited to French nationals and residents and their families.
“Tourism or business trips for people who do not have French or European nationality or are residents will be limited.
“People 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.”
The new measures will apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status.
Attal said the rules are aimed at slowing down the arrival of Omicron cases in France and allowing the country’s booster campaign to advance.
Amid questions over how the new policy will affect cross-Channel trade, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said hauliers will be exempt.
He tweeted: “To confirm I have liaised with my French counterpart (Jean-Baptiste Djebbari) and hauliers will remain exempt.”
A spokesman for ferry operator Brittany Ferries said: “These new measures are a hammer blow to our Christmas season.
“In the context of an Omicron variant that is passing through the French population as it is in the UK, further border controls seem as unnecessary as they are unwelcome.”
UK health minister Gillian Keegan said she has had to cancel a skiing trip to France over Christmas due to the rising threat of Omicron.
Asked on LBC radio whether she has been forced to change her Christmas plans, she said: “I have altered them several times.
“I was, at one point, intending to go away skiing, but that’s changed.
“So now I will be with a small group, I think there six of us – actually there was going to be seven for Christmas Day but one person has tested positive so will be isolating over Christmas Day – so I think there’s going to be six of us.”