France welcomes back British tourists after COVID-19 curbs eased
PARIS (Reuters) – France on Friday welcomed back its first British tourists after a partial travel ban, introduced over COVID-19 concerns, was lifted.
One traveller, who gave his name as Warwick, arrived at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris on Friday aboard a Eurostar service from London. He said he had previously had to cancel a skiing trip to France when the restrictions were introduced.
“It opened yesterday, I booked my Eurostar ticket yesterday, and I have packed my bags, and I am here to get down to the mountains and enjoy myself with my friends,” he said as he disembarked the train.
The French government imposed the restrictions on travel from Britain in December, concerned about the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which at the time had yet to reach France on a large scale.
Under those restrictions, people needed a “compelling reason” to travel to France, making the trip impossible for leisure and most business travellers.
That restriction was lifted as of Friday, provided the traveller can prove they have a COVID-19 vaccination. The demand for a negative COVID-19 test, conducted 24 hours before a trip, remains in place.
The restrictions caused pain for French ski resorts, which are in the middle of their season. British holidaymakers are among their best customers.
Eurostar is running two trains a day between Paris and London. The company said that would go up to 9 trains or more per day from Feb. 11, when British school holidays start.
“We’re glad about the easing of the travel restrictions, which will allow our customers to move more freely between the United Kingdom and France,” Eurostar said in a statement.
(Reporting by Noemie Olive and Antony Paone; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence)