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France announced that it will not allow any nonessential travel to and from Britain due to cases of the Omicron variant in the region.
As The New York Times reported:
Jean Castex, France’s prime minister, said in a statement that, “faced with the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom,” the government had decided to act. He urged people planning to travel to Britain to postpone their trips.
Mr. Castex said that starting Saturday, travel to or from Britain would be allowed for only “urgent” reasons — like a family medical emergency or a legal summons — regardless of the traveler’s vaccination status. The new restrictions effectively bar French and British tourists during the busy holiday season.
“British authorities reported 88,376 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest number of known infections in a single day since the start of the pandemic,” the Times noted.
According to the BBC, “French citizens, their partners and children, legal residents, and EU citizens travelling home through France, won’t need an essential reason to travel – but must still abide by all other rules.”
U.K. Transport Minister Grant Shapps noted that truck drivers would not be under the new rules.
“As the Omicron variant spreads extremely quickly in the United Kingdom, the French government has decided to re-implement compelling reasons for travels from and to the United Kingdom, and to reinforce mandatory tests at departures and arrivals,” the statement reportedly said.
A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the increasing amount of Omicron cases around the world indicate that “tighter border measures wouldn’t be effective or proportionate” in decreasing the variant being brought in, per the outlet.
People who leave Britain to go to France will also have to undergo more intense testing rules, even if they have received the vaccine, per the Times.
The Times noted:
All travelers will have to present a negative virus test taken within 24 hours of departure, down from 48 hours. (The 24-hour rule already existed for unvaccinated travelers.)
All travelers arriving from Britain will also have to register online and isolate for up to 10 days. However, they can take a test 48 hours after arrival, and if that comes back negative, they can end their isolation period.
In the United States, a requirement by the Biden administration to force all travelers coming into the country — including Americans — to provide a negative test within 24 hours of departure went into effect earlier this month. Travelers from abroad will also need to be fully-vaccinated to come to the United States.
President Biden’s new plan to respond to the Delta and Omicron variants heading into the winter season was posted on the official website for the White House earlier this month, including a push for booster vaccinations for adults and vaccinations to protect children and keep schools open.
On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at a White House COVID-19 update, saying, “Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron,” adding, “At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster.”
CNBC reported on Wednesday:
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said 36 states have detected omicron so far, and the variant makes up about 3% of Covid cases nationwide. However, omicron infections are likely much higher in New York and New Jersey, she said, making up about 13% of cases.