The unexpected announcement that British tourists would be banned from entering France from midnight on Saturday sent shockwaves through an already beleaguered tourism industry.
The news gradually spread yesterday until it was confirmed by the French government – until further notice, pleasure travel between the UK and France would be banned, destroying thousands of draft Christmas and New Year holidaymakers.
Exemptions were rare, including French citizens and their spouses, partners and children; students enrolled in France; and those who travel due to the death or terminal prognosis of a close family member (grandparent, parent, child or brother)
ABTA Travel Association CEO Mark Tanzer called the move “a hammer blow to the winter travel industry, which is already under extreme pressure as a result of the new Omicron restrictions.”
Nick Robinson, founder and CEO of the Maison Sport ski instructor market, said: “The partial closure of the borders with France is absolutely devastating for skiing and other winter industries,” adding that “we cannot prevent us from feeling caught in the middle of a political storm ”.
Meanhwile, TUI, easyJet, Jet2 and British Airways have cut flights and vacations to France due to the ban.
Follow all of the latest travel updates below:
Seats sell out on last UK-France flights before travel ban
As options to reach France before the 11pm GMT deadline tonight dwindle, seats on the remaining flights are becoming extremely scarce and expensive.
British Airways’ last departure from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle, with a departure at 8:30 p.m., only has one seat remaining – in business class, at £ 671. The price per mile is over £ 3. BA has deployed its largest narrow-body Airbus, the A321, in flight.
From Manchester to Paris at 6:55 p.m., easyJet has a remaining seat at £ 112.
Simon calderDecember 17, 2021 4:16 PM
Before the last departure of the Eurostar, the rail operator asks for “consistency” in the travel rules
The last Eurostar train from London St Pancras to Paris before the start of the France travel ban is due to depart at 8:01 pm. It will arrive in the capital at 11:17 p.m. local time – 43 minutes before the ban on UK visitors begins.
All afternoon and evening train tickets sold out quickly after the ban was announced on Thursday.
A Eurostar spokesperson said: “Our immediate goal is to take care of our customers, who again face disruption during the Christmas travel period.
“We fully understand and support the need for governments to tighten travel restrictions in the interest of public health, to help contain the virus as new variants emerge, and we are advising our passengers accordingly.
“However, once the variant is established and disseminated within communities, it is difficult to see what these restrictions are used for. It is important that they are not in place longer than is absolutely proven and necessary.
“Looking ahead, we urge governments to commit now to a clear, consistent and sustainable approach to meeting these future challenges, which is more than suddenly turning on and off travel at a significant cost to people, businesses and the economy. “
Simon calderDecember 17, 2021 3:36 PM
Switzerland relaxes testing protocols for travelers
The Swiss government has just announced an easier entry for vaccinated and recovered travelers.
As of Monday, December 20, those who can prove that they are fully vaccinated or cured of Covid-19 will only need one negative test to enter Switzerland – a PCR test carried out within 72 hours before the start of the test. arrival or rapid antigen test performed no more than 24 hours. hours before entry.
The obligation to take a second test four to seven days after entering the country will be removed.
Helene coffeyDecember 17, 2021 3:16 PM
Finland requires fully vaccinated UK travelers to test negative for Covid
Finland is tightening entry requirements for British travelers over the Christmas period in response to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
From December 21, fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK will be required to provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours of entering the country.
Right now, double-bitten Britons – or those with proof of a vaccine dose and recovery from a Covid-19 infection – do not need to test before traveling to Finland and can visit the country for any reason, including tourism. Unvaccinated travelers can only enter the country if they can provide proof of an essential or humanitarian reason.
Helene coffeyDecember 17, 2021 3:01 PM
Train connections canceled this weekend
On one of the busiest weekends of the year for train travel, staff shortages caused by high levels of Covid cases and industrial action will lead to cancellations on the services of some rail operators.
TransPennine Express tells passengers, “Services on our network over the next few days could be subject to short-term delays and cancellations due to a lack of available staff caused by industrial relations issues.
“We do everything we can to keep you on the move and as always our goal is to provide you with stable and reliable service because we know you trust TransPennine Express to get you where you need to be.
“We apologize for any disruption this may cause to journeys in the coming days and ask that you allow extra time for the journey and carefully check – until the last minute – any changes to train schedules.”
Southern, which runs mainly between London and the south coast, said: “On Saturday 18 December, a shortage of essential train crew will lead to a reduction in service on the southern network.
“Trains should be busier than usual as it’s the last weekend to do some Christmas shopping.
“Please check your route before traveling and allow extra time. “
Simon calderDecember 17, 2021 1:52 PM
Tui, easyJet and Jet2 cancel flights and vacations to France as travel ban hits
Tour operators and airlines are cutting flights and vacations to France in response to the upcoming ban on leisure travelers from the UK, which begins at midnight (French time) tonight.
The move, announced by the French government on December 16, thwarted thousands of Britons’ plans to travel to France over the Christmas season, whether to see family and friends or to take a city break. or a ski vacation.
Travel agencies reacted quickly, with Tui, easyJet and Jet2 canceling all of their services.
Helene coffeyDecember 17, 2021 12:28 PM
What are the new travel restrictions in France and when do they start?
The sudden ban on travel to France by British visitors upset several thousand projects.
In response to the increase in cases of the omicron variant in the UK, France has imposed strict new rules that will take effect from 11 p.m. GMT on Friday, December 17 (midnight French time).
They apply regardless of vaccination status.
Only a “compelling reason” is allowed for travel from the UK to France. While the French will be able to travel, all holiday and business travel for UK travelers – as well as most family visits – are on hold until further notice.
Click below to The independentFull explanation of all the latest rules and regulations:
Simon calderDecember 17, 2021 11:26 AM
France travel ban “extremely disappointing”, says ferry booking company
Niall Walsh, COO at Direct Ferries, the world’s largest ferry ticket booking site, called the travel ban to France “unnecessary” and “extremely disappointing”, adding that the company had already received numerous calls. of “distraught” customers.
He said: “Today’s announcement by the French government on restricting travelers from the UK is yet another blow to our business and the travel industry, just days before the start of the peak ferry travel period. Our Dover to Calais route is one of our most popular at this time of year and this year was no exception.
“We are currently dealing with calls from distraught UK customers who are desperate to cancel or advance their reservations. It is a disappointing move and we believe it is an unnecessary move that will once again separate many people this year for the holidays and undermine consumer confidence to travel again after the last few months of growth in the industry.
“With the PCR tests currently in place for UK tourist travel and the willingness of travelers to shoulder these additional costs in order to be able to travel, it is extremely disappointing that this is not seen as a viable option for continuing to travel. but minimizing the spread of infection.
Helene coffeyDecember 17, 2021 10:30 AM
Tariffs skyrocket in race to reach France at 11 p.m. to defeat travel ban
Air fares are skyrocketing and train tickets dwindle as travelers rush to beat France’s travel ban that begins at 11 p.m. GMT on Friday.
British Airways flights this afternoon from London Heathrow to Nice sell for £ 740 one way, while Air France charges £ 683 from Newcastle to Paris.
During the morning, Eurostar, the cross-Channel rail operator, sold all of its afternoon departures to Paris. He told passengers: “Please only come to London St Pancras Station on Friday 17th December if you have a confirmed booking for that day and a negative test result.”
Simon calderDecember 17, 2021 9:24 AM
Eurostar sees increase in bookings to exceed midnight deadline
Eurostar has seen an increase in bookings from travelers desperate to reach France before Saturday’s deadline, from which a ban on leisure travel will be in place.
It sold its standard class compartments on several of its London-Paris trains departing today.
Tickets for previous trains cost £ 195 each, while fares for weekend travel after the new restrictions are in place are available from just £ 86.
Additional reports by agencies
Helene coffeyDecember 17, 2021 9:00 AM