France eases Omicron’s restrictions on Britons returning to EU homes

French authorities have asked border police to allow Britons to drive through France when they return to their homes in other EU countries after the Christmas holidays, following travel disruptions caused by the sudden implementation of new Covid measures.

The U-turn came two days after the French government tightened enforcement of travel restrictions that prevented Britons from traveling through France by car if they did not have French residence permits.

The measures were introduced before Christmas in response to rising coronavirus cases in the UK. French border police on Tuesday were asked to use them on Britons trying to drive through France to reach other EU countries.

The French Interior Ministry said on Thursday that a large number of British nationals living in the EU had returned to the UK “in good faith” and acknowledged their “difficulty” in returning to the bloc in recent days.

“Given the situation, the police at the border with the UK have been asked to show tolerance towards [these British nationals] to allow them to transit through France to return to their home in an EU country after the Christmas and year-end holidays, ”the ministry said.

The guidance comes as France tries to ease border chaos after new restrictions threatened to leave an increasing number of British travelers stranded.

Eurotunnel, which operates the shuttle service that allows people to take their cars between Folkestone and Calais, confirmed the decision. However, it said [it] was “subject to their journey to [the] The UK will be completed by 28 December.

The new guide, which allows passengers traveling from the UK to return to their homes in the EU via France, will take effect immediately, the operator said.

Under measures designed to slow the spread of Omicron, France prevented British tourists from entering the country in mid-December, triggering a wave of cancellations of ski holidays and causing travel disruptions for anyone without French citizenship or residence permits.

But Britons trying to reach other parts of the EU – including workers and residents of countries like Belgium who had hoped to drive back through France via the Eurotunnel – also broke the rules after new instructions were provided to French border police, who clarified that the measures applied to persons in transit.

Infections in France have recently risen to record highs, driven in part by the more transmissible Omicron variant, described by ministers as triggering a “tidal wave” of cases.

Daily casualties in France reached more than 208,000 on Wednesday, their highest level since the start of the pandemic, marking a European record.

France’s Home Office declined to comment on the broader travel restrictions for British tourists who are still unable to visit France or when these may end.

Roland Moore, a PR director and Belgian resident who was there this week returned as he tried to take his car on to the shuttle service from the UK to France, said the sudden shift in interpretations and lack of warning had been confusing after he managed the journey in reverse earlier in December.

“Seven days ago it was fine, but a week later without notice it was not fine,” Moore said, adding that he understood, however, that the French had taken steps to try to tackle rising Covid cases.

Moore managed to reach Belgium via the Eurostar train, which also runs through France, leaving his car with the family in the UK.

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