France Bans Travel to UK Without 'Compelling' Reason

British government has warned of 'tidal wave' of omicron cases
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2021 7:29 AM CST
France Tightly Restricts Travel to and From UK
People wait before receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, in a vaccination center of Lyon, central France, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.   (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

(Newser) – As European governments scramble to deal with the spread of the omicron variant, France has placed tough restrictions on travel to and from the UK, which currently has a far higher number of omicron cases. In a statement, the French government said it had reintroduced a requirement to have a "compelling reason" for travel between the UK and France for vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike, Guardian reports. Testing requirements have also been stepped up. The French statement noted that in the British government's own words, the UK is expected to face a "tidal wave" of cases in the coming days. The UK reported a record 78,610 new COVID cases Wednesday.

France has also stepped up its booster vaccination campaign and tightened its health pass system, France24 reports. Health passes for people over 65 will now be invalid unless the holder has received a third dose of vaccines. The passes are necessary for visiting restaurants and cafes as well as venues like movie theaters. Elsewhere:

  • EU wants common policy for all 27 members. European Union leaders will meet Thursday to try to hammer out a policy that will allow travel between the 27 member states to continue, though vaccination rates vary widely, the AP reports. Portugal, France, and Greece already require negative COVID tests from arriving visitors, vaccinated or unvaccinated.
  • Dutch royals apologize. In the Netherlands, the Dutch royal family has apologized for hosting a party on the palace grounds for heir apparent Princess Amalia's 18th birthday last week, though it says all regulations were followed, the BBC reports. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said King Willem-Alexander admitted to him that it was a bad idea to organize the gathering while COVID cases were surging and tight restrictions were in place.
  • South Korea brings back controls. The Washington Post reports that South Korea reintroduced restrictions Thursday after case numbers hit a record high for the fourth time this month. The new rules ban gatherings of more than four people and require restaurants and nightclubs to close at 9pm.
(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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