Covid-19 in France

New French ban on non-essential travel from UK dampens tourism

People enjoy the sun on deckchairs along the river Seine in Paris, Tuesday, July 28, 2020.
People enjoy the sun on deckchairs along the river Seine in Paris, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. AP - Kamil Zihnioglu

France has placed further restrictions on tourists coming from UK due to concerns over the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant. Only essential travel will be allowed from 31 May.


The French government has announced that from 31 May only essential travel from the UK will be allowed. Visitors will also have to self-isolate for a week.

“There is a new situation with the progression of the so-called Indian variant in the United Kingdom,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

The Indian variant now makes up half of new cases in the UK.

France had planned to allow fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK - or those who had a negative PCR test - to come here as from 9 June, in line with the easing of travel restrictions around the EU.

But visitors will now need a vital reason or motif impérieux to enter France.

The list includes bereavement, childcare, vital assistance to sick or disabled person, returning to your main residence, vital work commitments, students beginning or ending period of study, among others.

The decision to allow only essential travel from 31 May is a setback for UK residents who had planned holidays in France.

There are also concerns it could have a negative effect on British attendance at the Cannes Film Festival which runs from 6 to 17 July. Thousands of people from both the press corps and industry delegates, as well as large numbers of unregistered attendees, could be affected.

A spokesperson for the festival told the Guardian: “We are currently in a day-to-day conversation with the relevant government authorities to find the best option for the festival.”

Last week, the EU agreed on a digital health pass to allow travel across the bloc's 27 countries for people who have either been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, recently tested negative or recovered from a coronavirus infection.

As the UK is no longer part of the EU a result of Brexit, travellers from over the Channel won't benefit from the pass, which is expected to launch by July.

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