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France is to ban UK tourists from midnight on Saturday.

Only travel for “compelling reasons” between the two countries will be permitted, following a surge in omicron cases in Britain.

However, French citizens and their spouses, partners and children will still be able to return to France from the UK.

Meanwhile, Greece is the latest country to introduce tighter travel rules in response to the threat of the omicron coronavirus variant.

From 19 December, all international arrivals, including those from the EU, will need to present a negative PCR test taken within the 48 hours prior to arrival.

The Greek government announced the move on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Italy, which introduced similar restrictions the day before.

The current entry requirements for Greece stipulate that travellers from the UK don’t need to present a negative test if they can prove full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

Follow all the latest travel updates below:

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Johnson has yet to speak to Macron about France travel ban

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said that the UK had been informed in advance of the French decision to ban British leisure travellers but said that the PM had not spoken with President Emmanuel Macron about it.

“It is up to individual countries to decide their approach,” said the spokesperson.

“We’ve maintained that travel abroad will be different this year and that countries may impose border measures at short notice in line with their own policies in line with rising omicron cases around the world.

“We have removed countries from the red list, as this was no longer an effective or proportionate to slow the import of omicron from abroad, given it is now seeded throughout the world.”

Andrew Woodcock16 December 2021 12:57

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‘Now is not the time to travel’, Canada’s health minister warns residents

Canada has asked residents to avoid all non-essential international travel due to fears about the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, 15 December, health minister Jean-Yves Duclos said “the situation abroad is already dire in many places” and “is going to get worse very quickly”.

“To those who were planning to travel, I say very clearly — now is not the time to travel,” he said. “The rapid spread of the omicron variant on a global scale makes us fear the worst.

“We’re afraid for what could happen to them if they leave Canada. Travelling Canadians could contract the virus or get stranded abroad.”

Saman Javed16 December 2021 12:32

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Simon Calder to answer your questions live from 4-5pm today

The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder will answer your questions live between 4-5pm today, following the news that leisure travel to France is about to be banned.

Only travelling for “compelling reasons” between France and the UK will be permitted from midnight on Saturday 18 December.

Meanwhile, Greece is also tightening up testing restrictions for international arrivals.

Click below to submit your travel question in the comment section underneath the article – then return to the web page at 4pm when Simon will be answering as many queries as he can in an hour:

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 12:05

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Heathrow boss demands ‘playbook for living with Covid’ from government

Writing exclusively for The Independent, Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye has called on the government to provide a “playbook for living with Covid” if the UK aviation sector is ever to recover.

“What we want from government is a playbook for living with Covid,” he said. “We support bringing in restrictions quickly, but they should be removed just as quickly – either when the threat is found to be less risky, or when the new variant becomes endemic in the UK, as is now the case.

“If ministers remove the additional tests before Christmas, it will give Brits the confidence to book travel over New Year, when 20 per cent of all bookings are made. That will give the aviation sector the confidence to plan for a doubling of passenger numbers next year.”

Read his full comment piece here:

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 11:55

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What are the new France travel restrictions and when do they start?

The sudden prohibition on travel to France by British visitors has thrown many thousands of plans into disarray.

In response to the surging cases of the omicron variant in the UK, France has imposed tough new rules that take effect from 0.01am on Saturday 18 December.

They apply regardless of vaccination status.

Only a “compelling reason” is permitted for travel from the UK to France. While French people will be able to travel, all holidays and business trips for British travellers are off until further notice.

The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, has all the key questions and answers on the latest measures; click below for his full explainer:

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 11:34

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French ban a ‘hammer blow’ to travel industry

Travel industry insiders in the UK have called France’s decision to ban British tourists a “hammer blow”.

ABTA Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “Reports that France is to introduce a temporary ban on most travel from the UK will come as a hammer blow to the winter travel industry, which is already under extreme pressure following the new omicron restrictions.

“The winter sports and school travel markets are particularly exposed, and the government must now bring forward a support package if we are not to see company failures and job losses.

“The travel and tourism sector has had little chance to generate income since early 2020 and is now faced with another wave of cancellations. Travel businesses have reported turnover at just 22 per cent of pre-pandemic levels following two years of government-imposed restrictions and consumer confidence in overseas travel has been hit hard.”

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 10:52

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French government confirms leisure travel ban

The French government has confirmed reports of an imminent travel ban for UK tourists.

The Consulate General of France in London issued the following statement: “From Saturday December 18, 2021 (midnight) the following rules will apply to all travelers arriving from the UK, whether or not they are vaccinated:

“Obligation to have a compelling reason to go to or come from the United Kingdom, for unvaccinated people as well as vaccinated people. They will not allow travel for tourist or professional reasons.

“The fact of being French constitutes a compelling reason for returning to France. Also, their spouse (married, civil union, or cohabiting partner (on presentation of proof of community of life)) and their children will still be able to come to France.”

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 10:34

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‘Unprecedentedly high’ number of hotel quarantine inmates test positive

In the UK an “unprecedentedly high” number of quarantining arrivals have tested positive for coronavirus.

Almost 5 per cent of travellers staying in hotel quarantine recently tested positive for Covid, MPs have been told.

Jonathan Mogford, the official in charge of border policy at the UK Health Security Agency, told a transport select committee meeting that at least 1 per cent of these were found to have the omicron variant, although in reality the number could be as high as 3 per cent.

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 10:03

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Hauliers to be exempt from tighter travel restrictions in France

Hauliers will not be subject to the new tighter travel restrictions set to come into effect on Saturday.

The French government is expected to announce later today that travellers from the UK heading to France must take a Covid test within 24 hours of departure and quarantine on arrival.

Non-essential travel between the two countries also looks set to be banned, according to reports.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “To confirm I have liaised with my French counterpart @Djebbari_JB and hauliers will remain exempt.”

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 09:43

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Greece to demand PCR tests from all international travellers

Greece will soon require that all international travellers present a negative PCR test in order to enter the country.

Previously, arrivals who could prove full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 were not required to take a test.

But under the new rules, which come into effect from 6am local time on 19 December, even double-jabbed travellers – including those from other EU countries – over the age of 12 must comply with the testing mandate.

Helen Coffey16 December 2021 09:18

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