France Restrictions on Travel from UK Come into Force
16th December 2021
Last modified on December 17th, 2021
People need ‘compelling reasons’ to travel with 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. The key question is how long the rules will remain in place. UPDATED
From Saturday compelling reasons will be needed for entry to France, 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.
Skiing and snowboarding trips direct from the UK are not possible.
It deals a severe blow to the snowsports industry over the crucial Xmas period.
There is anger and bewilderment from many, and PlanetSKI readers have been continuing to react.
“This announcement has absolutely demolished a family trip that was 2 years in the making, with family already in transit to the resort from Asia,” said Alexander Richardson-Hall.
“I have spent nearly 24 hours trying to find a resolution… I don’t even know why I’m writing this, but it’s a lousy decision that will do little to protect France from the spread of omicron.
“It’s already in country, and all travellers are vaccinated, boosted, tested or sometimes all three. Retribution for shitty British politics? Probably.
“Devastating for families and the French tourist industry? Definitely. Protecting France against omicron? Definitely not.”
Helena Dillon: “Alexander Richardson-Hall 100% agree. If this were about Omicron, the whole of Europe would be shutting down and not allowing freedom of movement. So sorry that you have been affected by this shower of shit. We as a family will certainly be bearing this decision in mind for our future spending power… we love France but…”
Neil Phillips: “Boycott France!!! Let’s go to Austria, Switzerland, Andorra,Germany, Bulgaria.”
We have a full article on reaction from skiers, resorts, tour operators and local businesses.
Ski resorts such as Meribel and Val d’Isere are heavily reliant on British visitors and we have reaction from ski resorts, plus UK tour operators and travel businesses in the article:
Those few people who can come from the UK into France 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.
Some believe it is a knee-jerk reaction and will be reversed.
It is worth remembering that last month Switzerland imposed quarantine on UK arrivals.
Then it ended it after considering its position and looking at the situation in a more measured and rational way.
President Macron has been accused of making the move for political reasons.
Many British skiers arrive in the French ski resorts via Geneva airport in Switzerland.
Some, including PlanetSKI reader Sarah McCann, are asking about the rules for accessing French ski resorts from Switzerland.
“Does anyone know whether you can still fly to Geneva and then continue through to France? Currently no checks on land border according to recent anedoctal experience. We are due to go to Les Arcs in two weeks,” she asks on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.
We have spoken to some in the industry and there appears to be no clear answer.
One said that such a journey would “go against the spirit of the French rules” another that “it might be possible”.
We will update when things are clearer.
People wishing to travel through France to another country are only allowed to make the journey if they stay within the international area of an airport for less than 24-hours.
The UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski, uses airports in France to access neighbouring country for skiing.
It has issued information for those who were heading to Andorra and Switzerland.
“We’re aware that the French Government have today announced a ban on UK travellers entering France. For customers due to travel to Andorra via France on the 19th December, 26th December and 2nd January, we’re currently working on plans to rearrange your flights into Barcelona so that holidays can continue as planned.”
“For customers due to travel to Switzerland on the 21st December, 28th December and 4th January and travelling with TUI Airways, we’ll be in contact with customers directly to rearrange flights with an alternative airline. We’ll continue to monitor the situation for future departures and will be in contact with customers directly if there are any changes to flying arrangements.”
On Friday there were 93,045 coronavirus reported cases in the UK, according to the government daily figures.
It is the highest number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
The UK reported 88,376 cases on Thursday.
There were 3,201 new cases of the Omicron variant, up from yesterday’s figure of 1,691.
It takes the total number of confirmed Omicron cases in the UK to 14,909 – although the true figure is believed to be much higher.
The UK currently has 597 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In France it is 516, but most cases in France are of the Delta variant.
The French authorities are worried about the omicron variant adding to that total.
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.
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.
Downing Street has indicated there are no plans to ban French travellers to the UK.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that rising cases of omicron across the world meant that “tighter border measures wouldn’t be effective or proportionate” in slowing the import of the new variant.
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.
Boris Johnson actually said “tidal wave” rather than “landslide”.
“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 has also advised 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 about entering France:
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.
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…
We do our very best at PlanetSKI to ensure the information provided here is as complete and up-to-date as possible. However, please be aware that we assume no liability in this respect. Information provided by PlanetSKI should be checked with the official information provided by the authorities. The situation regarding travel warnings and local rules changes quickly.