France Imposes Tough New Restrictions on Travellers from UK

People need ‘compelling reasons’ to travel and there are mandatory tests for departures and arrivals. It deals a heavy blow to those planning to ski in the French mountains over Christmas and the resorts waiting to welcome them.UPDATED

It follows a surge in cases of the omicron variant in the UK.

On Thursday 88,376 coronavirus cases were reported, according to the government’s daily figures.

It is the highest number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.

On Wednesday the UK reported 78,610 cases.

The previous highest figure was 68,053 on 8th January  2021- when the UK was in lockdown.

From this Saturday compelling reasons will be needed for entry, which includes visiting family – but not for skiing and snowboarding, tourism or non-urgent work reasons.

We list the compelling reasons lower down this article.

Those people who can come from the UK will be required to have a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24-hours.

Once in France, they will have to self-isolate for a week, but that period of quarantine can be ended after 48-hours if they have a second negative test once in France.

The new measures apply to everyone regardless of whether they have been vaccinated and there is no indication how long the measures will remain in place.

It means skiing and snowboarding trips from the UK are not possible and deals a severe blow to the snowsports industry over the crucial Xmas period.

Resorts such as Meribel and Val d’Isere are heavily reliant on British visitors.

Many British skiers arrive in the French ski resorts via Geneva airport in Switzerland.

Many UK skiers had already cancelled their holidays in anticipation of problems and the resorts will be looking to their domestic markets over the Xmas holiday period.

“Today France decided to restrict entry from the UK as of midnight on the night of 17th (11pm GMT),” said a statement from the French resort of Morzine.

“Non-French nationals or residents will need a compelling reason to travel to France.

“This does not include tourism.

“Sadly until this changes British skiers will not be able to visit France. Morzine is saddened by this news and looks forward to welcoming British skiers once rules change.”

UK tour operators are now cancelling ski holidays to France.

“We’re aware that the French Government have today announced a ban on UK travellers entering France. We’ll be in contact with customers shortly,” said Crystal Ski Holidays, the UK’s largest ski tour operator.

The CEO of the Travel Association – ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said the measures are a “hammer blow”.

“The winter sports and school travel markets are particularly exposed, and the government must now bring forward a support package if we are not to see company failures and job losses,” he said.

There has been swift reaction from skiers and snowboarders whose holiday plans have been dashed.

“So gutted we won’t get our Christmas holiday, but feel even worse for those whose livelihood this will impact on,” said PlanetSKI reader, Amy Whiles.

“We seem to time every attempt at a holiday just wrong, this is holiday attempt number 4 cancelled since the pandemic began.”

“We have just lost ours too but I really feel sad for all the employees over there and the losses the chalet companies will make …. Again,” said reader, Michelle Ryall.

There has been further reaction on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

Facebook reaction

Facebook reaction

Local businesses that cater to the British market will be severely affected.

“Gutting news this morning,” said the Chamonix branch of the British Alpine Ski & Snowboard School, BASS.

“We feel so sorry for all who will not be able to travel and enjoy our wonderful mountains. Thank you too for the wishes and concern for businesses.

“This is very hard for us to take in and it will have unfortunate consequences for businesses.

“Here at British Alpine Ski & Snowboard School we will push forwards, stay positive and hope that someday soon you can return to the alps to ski with us.”

Chamonix. Image © PlanetSKI

Chamonix. Image © PlanetSKI

Businesses will now have to refund their customers and it will be a severe blow to all.

“With Intersport whether you’re going to France Austria or Switzerland you will get a full refund directly back to the card or account that you made the booking with,” said the International Marketing Manager at Intersport, Chris Moran, to PlanetSKI.

“No voucher, no credit just your money back to you. And we are so so sorry that all of this is happening.”

Travelski  Express has also reacted to the news.

“Following this morning’s announcement from the French Government, effectively stopping all non-essential travel from the UK into France, Travelski is having to cancel all guests arriving from the UK (covering the period 17th December to 7th January).

“This also includes the first two rotations of the Travelski Express on 26th December and 1st January.

“All clients booked are being contacted by e-mail and offered a full refund, or a chance to rebook their ski holiday for later in the season.”

“Guests can rest assured that the situation is being closely monitored and we will be operating our full range of ski holidays, including the Travelski Express, as soon as restrictions allow us to do so in a safe manner.”

See here for an earlier PlanetSKI story on Travelski Express:

Travelski Express. Image © Eurostar

Image © Eurostar

The French government announced it was looking at introducing new measures earlier this week, so new restrictions were expected.

The speed and severity have caught some by surprise.

The French government says that “according to the British government’s own words, the United Kingdom is about to face a ‘landslide’ linked to the Omicron variant in the upcoming days.

“Therefore, starting from this Saturday morning (00:00), the following rules will be established for travel between the United Kingdom and France”:

·       A compelling reason will be mandatory for travellers leaving or going to the United Kingdom, for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people. These compelling reasons do not include professional and tourist trips. However, these compelling reasons will not apply to French citizens, their partners and children, who will still be able to come to France

·       Before their departure, vaccinated people will have to show a negative test (PCR or antigen) taken less than 24h ago, which falls into line with the measures that were already in place for unvaccinated people

·       Every traveller coming from the United Kingdom will have to register, prior to their trip, on a digital platform to indicate their destination address in France. This platform will generate prefectural decrees ordering the mandatory isolation of every unvaccinated and vaccinated traveller in the location of their choice. This mandatory quarantine can be lifted after 48h, under the conditions of showing the proof of a new negative test (PCR or antigen)

A statement from the French prime minister’s office lists the “compelling reasons” needed to justify a trip as:

  • Being someone working in the land, maritime and aerial transport sectors
  • French citizens with wife/husband/partner and their children
  • EU citizens with wife/husband/partner and children who have a main residence in France, or are in transit to a main residence in a country of the EU
  • Citizens from outside the EU who have a resident permit in France or a long-stay visa, with a main residence in France
  • British workers from the public sector such as border guards or customs officers
  • People working for the Channel Tunnel
  • Travellers in transit for less than 24 hours in French airports’ international zones

The French government also advises travellers who were planning to go to the United Kingdom to postpone their trip.

The UK government has issued its advice on the new rules:

From Saturday 18 December, all those wishing to travel from the UK to France, regardless of vaccination status, will need to meet criteria defined by the French authorities that the travel is essential.

French and EU nationals, as well as residents in France, are exempt. The full list of what constitutes essential travel is on the French Government website (in French).

All travellers must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours pre-departure.

All arrivals from the UK must self-isolate for 48 hours in France, after which time a negative PCR or antigen test is required to exit self-isolation.

See Entry requirements

There are no internal travel restrictions in France.

Facemasks are mandatory in indoor public spaces and on public transport.

Those aged 12 and over will need to demonstrate their COVID-19 status through the “pass sanitaire” in order to access many services and venues.

COVID-19 status can be demonstrated through proof of vaccination, proof of recent recovery or a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within the last 24 hours

Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this breaking news story so do check back for the latest…


France. Image © PlanetSKI.

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Image © PlanetSKI