Published on : Friday, December 31, 2021
The UK Government had said it was seeking ‘urgent clarification’ on the move, which also appeared to include train travel through the country.
Now the French Government has suspended the ban, which had effectively barred British people from returning to their homes in the EU after spending Christmas in the UK.
People travelling over France by plane were unaffected, but those who planned to use the ferry, Eurotunnel or Eurostar were briefly impacted before Thursday’s U-turn.
UK Government’s advice now reads that the French authorities confirmed on December 30 that UK nationals who are resident in other EU member states and who have travelled to the UK for the Christmas period will be able to transit France over the New Year period in order to return home to their country of residence.
Transit for less than 24 hours in the international zone of an airport is listed under “essential reasons” to travel.
A spokesman for the French interior ministry confirmed the policy reversal.
He told that a large number of British nationals residing in an EU country have travelled in good faith to the UK for the festive season and are experiencing difficulties in reaching their country of residence.
Faced with this situation, instructions of tolerance have been sent to police officers at the borders with the United Kingdom, in order to allow these nationals to transit through France to reach their residence in a country of the European Union, after this Christmas and New Year period.
Non-essential travel from the UK to France has been banned since December 18 in an effort to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, but several exemptions have been in place.
A UK Government spokesman added that the French authorities have confirmed that British nationals will face no additional restrictions while travelling through the holiday period.
British nationals who are currently in the UK, but resident in the EU, will be able to return to their home through France over the New Year period without disruption.
the government will remain in close contact with the French authorities.
The initial move had emerged after an announcement, which confirmed that the decision had been taken by the French Government.
It followed the travel ban sparking anger and bafflement among experts and in the tourism industry, since Omicron has spread rapidly across the globe and case numbers are sky high in many European countries not just Britain.
One Brit revealed her experience had left her fretting for 24 hours, prior to the U-turn.
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle issued an ‘urgent update’ on Wednesday night which stated that following a French government decision, on (Tuesday), unless they hold French residency, British citizens are now considered third country citizens and can no longer transit France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU.
EU citizens are generally able to drive between countries in the block without border checks thanks to the Schengen agreement, but Britain was not part of the initiative and is no longer in the EU.
The UK withdrew from the European Union on January 31 2020, although a transition period was in place until the end of that year.
Meanwhile, Germany is lifting a ban on UK tourists entering the country from January 4.