A post-Christmas campaign by French police against Britons trying to pull a car through France is causing further chaos for travelers affected by Covid restrictions, as the EU tries to contain the rising cases of the Omicron variant.
France British tourists banned of the country enters in mid-December in an effort to slow down the spread of Omicron, which has caused a wave of cancellations for ski holidays and caused travel disruption for anyone without French citizenship or residence documents.
But Britons trying to reach other parts of the EU – including workers and residents of countries such as Belgium who were hoping to drive back through France via the Eurotonnel – are also breaking the rules, after delivering new instructions to French border police is to explain. that the measures applied to people in transit.
“It is a strict application of the same rules, with all the problems it entails,” a French police official said, adding that border forces had received new guidelines on how to apply the measures after Christmas as travel picked up again. has.
Confusion over the rules in the run-up to the festive season has meant that some travelers have slipped through and are now hoping to return to other parts of the EU via France, the official added. “One of the problems is that a lot of people are gone [for the UK] before the rules changed and struggled for the way back. ”
Eurotunnel, which operates the shuttle service that allows people to take their cars to and from Folkestone to Calais, warned British travelers on Wednesday that they can no longer travel by car through France unless they have French accommodation vouchers. The restrictions do not apply to EU citizens.
“Following a French government decision, on 28 December 2021, unless they have a French right of residence, British citizens are now considered third-country nationals and can no longer travel through France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU. ” Eurotunnel said.
Infections in France have recently risen to record highs, driven in part by the more transmissible Omicron variant, described by ministers as a “tidal wave” of affairs.
Daily casualties in France hit more than 208,000 on Wednesday, their highest level since the start of the pandemic, indicating a European record. However, France’s Interior Ministry declined to comment on the travel restrictions or when they could end.
British government officials have said they are urgently seeking clarification from the French government on transport rules.
Roland Moore, a liaison director and Belgian resident who was this week turned back while trying to take his car to the UK shuttle service to France, said the sudden shift in interpretations and lack of warning was confusing after driving the ride in reverse earlier in December.
“Seven days ago it was good, but a week later without notice it was not good,” Moore said, adding that he understood, however, that the French had taken measures to try to tackle increasing Covid cases.
Moore managed to reach Belgium via the Eurostar train that also passes through France, leaving his car with family in the UK.
Changes to UK-France border measures have become particularly sensitive since Britain left the EU.
France banned all UK travelers and trucks from entering the UK for 48 hours before Christmas 2020, in a separate effort to contain a new coronavirus strain emerging at the time, which was seen by many travelers as excessive punishment.
Political struggles over how to police the Anglo-French border have since erupted over migration issues and dangerous sea crossings.
According to the rules, Britons can travel through French airports for less than 24 hours, or reach their destination by train.