UK Skiers Continue to Monitor When France May Open Borders

New rules are being introduced in response to the Omicron variant as the number of cases in France continues to rise and hits record levels. It does not bode well for British skiers wanting to head to France. UPDATED

The new rules just announced mean New Year’s Eve festivities can still go ahead, but it indicates that restrictions in France are being tightened rather than eased.

People travelling from the UK are currently banned from visiting France unless they have a compelling reason.

The ban was imposed earlier this month in response to rising Omicron cases in the UK.

It meant Christmas and New Year ski holidays were cancelled at short notice.

UK skiers wanting to head to France simply want an indication of when that might be possible.

At present no-one knows for definite.

However the current indications are that it will be “not before January 15th” according to a well placed UK ski tour operator we have spoken to.

He said the information was from “a local political source”, but he went on to say “honestly it’s anyone’s guess”.

France has reported Europe’s highest ever number of new daily Covid cases with more than 200,000 positive cases reported on Wednesday 29th.

On the same day, the UK also saw cases jump to a record high of 183,000 people testing positive.

The French government has responded by tightening some restrictions once again.

They come into force on 3rd January.

In a further blow to businesses in French ski resorts, cafés and bars will be table-service only and nightclubs will remain closed. 

Indoor events will be limited to 2,000 people and outdoor public gatherings will be restricted to 5,000 people.

Concerts with standing audiences will be banned.

Several ski resorts have already cancelled big New Year concerts and firework displays.

Image c/o Sam Ingles Morzine NYE 20-21

Image c/o Sam Ingles Morzine NYE 20-21

According to the English language news website, The Local, “all ceremonies de vouex (New Year ceremonies held by local officials and some companies) will be cancelled”.

There is, however, to be no curfew or ban on New Year’s Eve parties.

The government is advising people to take tests ahead of meeting up, keep gatherings small, ventilate rooms and wear masks where possible.

The French Prime Minister Jean Castex revealed the new rules after a cabinet meeting held on Monday 27th December. 

Among other restrictions from 3rd January, facemasks will be compulsory in city centres.

Remote working for a minimum of three days a week will be compulsory for those who are able to work from home.

More than 3,000 Covid patients are currently in intensive care in France.  

The Prime Minister said the vast majority of those in hospital with the most severe form of the virus were either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. 

Les3Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI

The ban has had a significant impact on ski resorts as we have reported:

In amongst the chaos some businesses are trying to react on a positive and proactive manner.

The ski rental chain Intersport will give you your money back, no questions asked, or transfer your booking to another time and even another country.

For example if you had a flight to Geneva and were going to Val’Isere in France you can switch to Verbier in Switzerland immediately, and actually make a bit of a saving on the price of ski hire.

“Basically we’re trying to make it as stress-free as possible for any of our customers who are affected by all this travel chaos,” said the International Marketing Manager of Intersport, Chris Moran.

“We know this is not our customers’ fault at all and we want to limit their inconvenience as much as possible.”

The quickest and easiest way to reach Intersport is to message the company directly on Facebook or Instagram at @IntersportRent.

Another is TravelSki Express.

“Travelski regrets that all ex UK ski holidays up until 13th January (including the Travelski Express 7th January departure) will now have to be cancelled.,” it said in a statement.

“All UK guests booked are being contacted directly via e-mail and offered a full refund or the option of rebooking later in the season.

“Any guests due to travel from 17th December to 13th January who have not received an e-mail direct can contact us on support.clients@travelski.com

So, what are the current rules for entering France?

Here is the advice from the UK government:

All those wishing to travel from the UK to France, regardless of vaccination status, can only do so for essential reasons, as defined by the French authorities.

French nationals, as well as residents in France, are considered to have an essential reason for travel.

The full list of what constitutes essential travel is on the French Embassy website.

Travellers should be aware of the following requirements:

– All travellers aged 12 years and over must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours pre-departure.
– Before travel, anyone coming from the UK must provide contact details, including the address they will be staying at, to the French authorities via an online form.
– All travellers must present a completed international travel form to prove the reason for essential travel. This can be found on the French government’s website. In exceptional circumstances, the French Consulate in London may be able to assist with travel for a compelling reason not listed as an ‘essential reason for travel’.
– All travellers must provide a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.
– Upon arrival in France, all travellers must self-isolate for 48 hours, after which time a negative PCR or antigen test is required to exit self-isolation. Without a negative test result, you will be required to self-isolate for 10 days.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country.

You should arrange to take a private test from a private coronavirus testing provider. Test results must be certified by a laboratory to be accepted.

Adults travelling from the UK to France by Eurostar who are not fully vaccinated will be asked to take an additional COVID-19 test upon arrival at Gare du Nord (vaccination status will be checked ahead of departure at St Pancras).

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be subject to mandatory self-isolation for 10 days.

Transiting through France To/From the UK

Transit for less than 24 hours in the international zone of an airport is listed under “essential reasons” to travel.

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.

Image © PlanetSKI