France travel ban: BBC reporter discusses Macron’s decision
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The news comes as Mr Macron announced tough measures on Brits travelling to France in an attempt to curb the rise of COVID-19 Omicron cases arriving from Britain. With France being a popular winter sports destination for Britons, French industry figures are now calling on measures to be reversed to avoid “catastrophic” consequences to the French tourism and hospitality industry. France has since confirmed that the Omicron strain of the virus is now the dominant version of the virus in the country with 232,000 confirmed new cases reported and recorded on New Year’s Eve across the country.
Francois Badjily, head of the Alpe d’Huez tourist office, suggested France was playing politics with the pandemic.
He said: “We have the impression that our industry is being made to pay the price for the poor relations between both countries right now, whether it’s about Brexit or fishing or whatever.”
Mr Badjily said the current rules were incoherent because fully vaccinated tourists from other countries where the Omicron strain is already present are able to visit.
Vaccine passports are needed to enter French holiday hotspots such as ski resorts, as well as restaurants, bars and leisure facilities.
Alpe d’Huez draws a quarter of its visitors from the UK every year.
The tourism chief added: “Why should a Briton who meets these criteria not be allowed to come, but the French and Belgians can?”
Christophe Lavaut, director of the Val d’Isere ski resort, also called on officials in Paris to axe the “compelling reason to travel” directive that has stopped holidaymakers coming to France.
He added: “This restriction should simply be lifted as it is no longer necessary.”
At least 42 per cent of Val d’Isere’s customers are British, said Mr Lavaut, who urged his government to act “at the beginning of January.”
Mr Macron’s travel measures have created chaos and sowed confusion throughout the entire Christmas break.
Earlier this week, border police even prevented Britons who were legal residents in the EU from returning to their homes – French officials at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone said they were not allowed to cross through France on health grounds.
Taking to Twitter to vent her frustration, one British mother, Pam Francis said: “My son booked 4 flights to Grenoble in France for a ski holiday. Obviously, they cannot use them now as UK citizens cannot go to France due to French Government covid restrictions.”
She added: “No reply from Ryanair – how can they not refund passengers who cannot legally travel? Disgusting”
But the EU’s top disease agency said in a report last month that Omicron travel restrictions only “help buy valuable time during the first days of detection”, adding that in countries already experiencing community transmission “such measures will probably not be relevant for much longer”.
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Germany will remove Britain from its travel red list on Tuesday after its government admitted Omicron was already widely present in the country.
For France, ties between Paris and London are at an all-time low.
Since the Brexit Agreement was signed, Mr Macron has taken offence at numerous issues concerning the UK.
An ongoing spat of fishing rights has seen Britain able to control its waters, which has led to French fishermen putting pressure on Mr Macron to act tough against the UK in order to have more licences issued.
Furthermore, the ongoing migrant crisis has also caused cross-Channel tension, with the UK blaming the French authorities for failing to act and prevent illegal crossings, in spite of the Home Secretary Priti Patel paying over £50million to the French to assist them in their patrols.
Pressure is now on Mr Macron as the upcoming presidential elections are just months away.
Competition from both far-right and centre-right candidates will be a huge concern for the incumbent, although Mr Macron is still expected to earn a second term in office.
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