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Ban on tourism trips to France deemed ‘hammer blow’ by travel industry

A ban on UK tourists entering France has been described as a “hammer blow” by travel firms.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced tough restrictions will be enforced from Saturday, including a requirement for “compelling reasons” to travel to or from the UK.

Trips for tourism or business will not be permitted, his office said in a statement.All arrivals will need to provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken less than 24 hours in advance, and must isolate for at least two days. 

The statement added: “In the face of the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom, the Government has chosen to reinstate compelling reasons for travel to and from the United Kingdom, and to strengthen the requirement for testing on departure and arrival.

“In the UK Government’s own words, the UK will face a ‘tidal wave’ linked to the Omicron variant in the coming days.”

This measures have thrown the Christmas travel plans for hundreds of thousands of people into chaos.

Coronavirus travel rules
France is tightening restrictions on travel from the UK to curb the spread of the Omicron variant (Yui Mok/PA)

Eurostar has sold out its standard class compartments for its five London to Paris trains departing after 9.30am on Friday.

Tickets for earlier trains cost £195 each, whereas fares for travel over the weekend once the new restrictions are in force are available from only £86.

Aviation analytics firm Cirium said there are 540 flights scheduled between the UK and France in the seven days before Christmas Day, with a total of more than 93,000 seats.

Two of easyJet’s three flights from Gatwick to Paris Charles de Gaulle on Friday were sold out, while a seat on the other was priced at £139.

A flight on the same route on Saturday was available for £68.

Cross-Channel ferry operators have also seen a surge in demand for sailings from the UK to France before Saturday.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said hauliers will be exempt from the new rules.

He posted on Twitter: “To confirm I have liaised with my French counterpart (Jean-Baptiste Djebbari) and hauliers will remain exempt.”

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