From today, France is lifting its blanket ban on British travellers.
Tourists from the UK who are fully vaccinated will be allowed back into the country for the first time since 18 December, without the need to provide a “compelling reason” for travel or to isolate on arrival.
Travellers will need to provide a negative result from a Covid test – which can be a lateral flow or PCR test – taken in the 24 hours before departure.
The lifting of the ban was confirmed yesterday by French minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, who announced that a decree changing the rules would be published today, with the easing of restrictions taking immediate effect from that point.
Although Mr Lemoyne didn’t provide any timings for the change, The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, arrived in France at 4am this morning and was allowed through border control without issue.
The lifting of the travel ban precedes strict new vaccine passport rules, which are being introduced in France from 17 January.
From Monday, visitors will need to have been fully vaccinated – including a booster jab if their second dose was administered more than seven months prior – in order to access most indoor venues.
Follow the latest updates below:
What it’s like to be the first British tourist back in France
As soon as it was announced that the French border would be opening back up to British travellers, The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, wasted no time in crossing the Channel.
Despite no official time for the lifting of the UK travel ban having been released, Simon boldly departed on the 11pm DFDS ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe yesterday evening, due to arrive in France at 4am this morning.
Armed with his passport, a signed “sworn statement” and his passenger arrival form, Simon boarded the four-hour sailing as the only foot passenger and hoped for the best.
As it turned out, he was let into France without issue – confirming that the ban has already been lifted for those travelling from the UK.
“Besides breathing in the frosty city air, my main concern is to keep my phone on life support and roaming data topped up so that anyone from bar owners to museum staff can scan the QR code that unlocks the capital,” he said, writing from a Parisian cafe this morning.
“This is France, but not quite as we know it.”
Helen Coffey14 January 2022 08:21
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog. We’ll be bringing you all the latest news and updates throughout the day.
Helen Coffey14 January 2022 08:04
Two Ryanair planes narrowly avoided crash, investigation finds
Two Ryanair planes had a near miss at Malaga airport two years ago, an investigation has concluded, almost colliding in what investigators have called a “serious incident”.
The official investigation by Spain’s civil aviation authority yesterday revealed that an air traffic controller at the Andalucia airport had given one Ryanair flight permission to land on a runway from which another Ryanair flight had been given permission to take off.
The distance between the two Boeing 737s was, at its closest, 520 metres – 16 per cent of the minimum recommended safety margin, which was the length of the runway (3,200 metres).
Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 17:06
Ski instructor bookings forecast to rise by 300%
Ski and snowboard instructor marketplace Maison Sport is forecasting a 300 per cent rise in instructor bookings over the next two weeks, compared with the previous period.
The company already saw a record day of bookings on Wednesday of this week, as anticipation grew around the prospect of France reopening.
Now the announcement has been made, it expects an “unprecendented surge” of demand for instructors.
Founder and CEO Nick Robinson says: “This is more welcome news at long last for the industry, particularly for the many local instructors who have been incredibly frustrated by the protracted lifting of the border restrictions. Morzine has been particularly affected, with large numbers of instructors facing the prospect of no bookings for the next few weeks.
“It may be a case of from rags to riches for many instructors now as we expect an unprecedented surge of bookings from now until the end of the season, as the majority of customers have been holding off as they waited for this news before confirming lessons.
“With so much great availability in late winter, after a slow December, we expect the next two weeks to be the biggest in our company’s history, with a 300 per cent increase in bookings anticipated.”
Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 15:59
Cyprus trips made slightly cheaper as antigen tests allowed
Authorities in Cyprus have announced that either antigen or PCR tests will be accepted for visitors’ pre-travel Covid tests, meaning slightly lower testing costs for holidaymakers.
The change in rules comes in tomorrow morning.
“Passengers aged 12 years old and over who arrive in Cyprus as of 14 January at 5am local time will have the option of taking a PCR test carried out up to 72 hours before their departure or an antigen rapid test carried out up to 24 hours before their departure,” said the country’s Transport, Communications and Works Ministry on Wednesday.
All arrivals 12 and over must still take a PCR test upon arrival at Cyprus’ airports, at their own expense, regardless of vaccination status.
Travellers who are yet to have a booster jab must also take a further PCR test 72 hours after arrival.
Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 15:34
What is changing for France’s vaccine passports?
One day after most Britons will be allowed back into France, the country’s rules are set to change around proof of vaccination and entry to venues.
On 6 January, the French government voted in plans to convert its health pass (pass sanitaire) to a vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) – meaning that full vaccination will be required to access public spaces such as restaurants, bars and public transport.
Until now, France’s TousAntiCovid app could be used by people who were not fully vaccinated – displaying a recent negative test result instead of vaccine proof – but as of Saturday, it will only work for fully jabbed visitors.
Meanwhile, from 15 January, everyone over the age of 18 must have received a booster to still be considered “fully” vaccinated in France.
There will be two different vaccine passes: Mobilité (for travel) and Activité (for access to venues such as restaurants and museums).
Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 14:41
RAF pilot to fire space rocket from Virgin jumbo jet later today
A Virgin Orbit space rocket will be launched from a Virgin Atlantic plane over the Pacific Ocean today, flown by an experienced RAF pilot.
Matthew “Stanny” Stannard will take off at around 12.30pm Pacific Time (8.30pm GMT) on a mission to launch the 70ft “space booster”.
The modified Boeing 747-400 – a former Virgin Atlantic passenger jet named Cosmic Girl – will fly out over the Pacific with the rocket attached under its left wing.
About an hour into the flight, the pilot will drop the rocket from about 35,000ft – at which point its first engine will ignite, taking it on a climb into orbit.
Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 13:53
Do not go directly to jail: tips on filling out the French travel forms
While British travellers and the industry wait to find out when admission to France will be possible, these are the two documents that UK visitors will need to complete.
The first is the passenger arrival form. When you complete this, note that the UK is Royaume-Uni on the drop-down menu.
There is a “zipcode” requirement for your birthplace – unless you were born in France, type 999.
When it asks, “What type of accommodation will you be staying in?” select “Individual accommodation”. Do not select “Jail”, one of the other options on the drop-down menu.
You will need to give an approximate location for where you are staying, for which a zipcode is required. For example, tap 75 into the drop-down menu for Paris and choose the appropriate option for the arrondissement where you will stay.
The document generated when you complete the form must be accompanied by your “sworn undertaking to comply with rules for entry” – asserting that you have not been suffering from coronavirus symptoms and “have no knowledge of having been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 during the last 14 days”.
Simon Calder13 January 2022 13:19
Severe delays on Southeastern and Thameslink services after freight train derailed
Passengers experienced severe delays on Southeastern Railway and Thameslink services this morning after the derailment of a freight train at Hoo Junction.
According to Network Rail, “One wheel has come off the rails and some wagons are blocking the down line”.
The body responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure tweeted early this morning: “Our teams have sourced a rescue locomotive and driver who should be on site shortly. Then they will attach to the wagons blocking passenger trains and pull them clear and back into the sidings.”
Helen Coffey13 January 2022 12:57
When exactly does France ban end and how soon will transport resume?
In terms of the timing of the border reopening, the minister’s wording was simply: “The decree will be published tomorrow [Friday] morning, with immediate entry into force.” The Independent is urgently seeking clarification.
Given the absence of British visitors to France, anyone seeking a city break to Paris or Nice, or a ski trip to the French Alps, over the coming weekend will find a dearth of crowds – and plenty of accommodation availability.
While ferry firms, Eurotunnel shuttles (carrying cars from Folkestone to Calais) and Eurostar trains (carrying passengers from London to Paris) are running to schedule, with plenty of space available, airlines are not able to ramp up so quickly.
Jet2 says its ski flights to France will begin again on 22 January, one week after the ban is lifted.
Meanwhile ferry operators are reporting “phones red hot” as travellers book trips to France.
Simon Calder13 January 2022 11:49