The French government has barred British tourists from entering France despite having marginally fewer cases of the Covid-19 than in the UK.
Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government, said “even more drastic” measures are needed to stop the spread of the Omicron variant. Those measures will come into effect on Saturday.
Prime Minister Jean Castex noted that both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated would have to have a valid reason for travelling to or from the UK. “Travel for business or pleasure is not permitted”.
Both French nationals and their spouses living in France are exempt from the new rules.
To gain access, applicants will have to self-isolate with police supervision for a week and take a test less than 24 hours before arriving. If a traveller tests negative while in isolation, the isolation can be lifted.
A negative Covid-19 test taken 48 hours prior to arrival in the UK was all that was required before this announcement.
In France, there are 742 cases per million people as of yesterday, while in the UK there are 841 cases per million people. The rates of both countries, as well as Belgium, which posted 1,002 new cases per million, are much higher than those across Europe.
It is still not clear how prevalent Omicron is in Europe, but the latest data, which extends to the start of December, shows that Omicron makes up eight per cent of all sequenced cases in Spain and five per cent in Belgium.
By the start of December, micron cases in France accounted for five per cent of sequenced cases.
As of yesterday, in the UK, cases with Omicron markers, which are highly likely to be Omicron, accounted for 32 per cent of cases for which information was available.
In contrast to France, the UK recently removed all 11 countries from the red list, acknowledging that the new variant’s spread in the community has severely reduced the effectiveness of travel bans.
According to Grant Shapps, Secretary of Transportation: “With community transmission here and similar rates around the world, it is only fair to remove these countries from our red list. These are the next logical steps in addressing this variant.”
Other European nations have not been subjected to similar restrictions, despite the fact that Belgium has a higher caseload than the UK. According to the latest data, the number of new cases in the UK surpassed all previous records for the entire pandemic, registering 78,610 new cases.