France Bans Travel to and From U.K. Due to Omicron

France on Thursday, December 16 banned all nonessential travel to and from the U.K. due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant. According to The New York Times, Jean Castex, France’s prime minister, said the decision was made as they were “faced with the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom.”

The U.K. reported 88,376 new coronavirus cases on Thursday—the highest number infections in a single day since the start of the pandemic, with this record likely to be broken in the coming days.

Currently, the only travel permitted by France to or from the U.K. is for “urgent” reasons, such as a family medical emergency or a legal summons (all regardless of a traveler’s vaccination status). Note: The new rules do not apply to French citizens living in Britain who wish to return to France. Travelers from the U.K. to France will have to show proof of a negative virus test taken within 24 hours of departure, down from 48 hours. (The 24-hour rule already existed for unvaccinated travelers; it now applies to all travelers). All travelers arriving from Britain will also have to register online and isolate for up to 10 days. That said, they can take a test 48 hours after arrival, and if that comes back negative, they can end their isolation.

Julia Simpson, World Travel & Tourism Council president and CEO, in a statement following the announcement said, “This is an ineffective, knee-jerk reaction by the French government. Banning travel to France will not stop COVID variants that are already in France. As South African scientists said these decisions are based on hysteria not logic.

“This decision will destroy long planned family reunions and it has long term implications for a travel and tourism sector that was just beginning to recover.

“Governments should be focusing on individuals allowing people who are fully vaccinated to travel freely. Banning whole countries has been proved to not work.

“We know this drastic measure will do nothing to stop the new virus strain but will be a major blow to the travel and tourism sector—which is the last thing it needs right now. We should be focusing on stopping community transmission, by enforcing on mask wearing and implementing enhanced health and safety measures.”

Previously, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), along with other global travel trade organizations condemned blanket and country-specific travel bans. Closing borders and implementing new restrictions, the groups said, affects millions of employees in the travel and tourism industry, while also putting already vulnerable businesses at further risk from ever recovering.

Related Stories

Holidays in Paris 2021

Thailand Easing Entry Restrictions From December 16

Christmas Events in France’s Loire Valley

ASTA Implores Congress to Restore Employee Retention Tax Credit