French and other EU citizens will once again be allowed to enter France from Britain beginning at midnight if they have a negative Covid-19 test that is less than 72 hours old, the French prime minister's office said on Tuesday.
France and some 50 other countries closed their borders to Britain on Monday over fears of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos and stranding many foreign nationals in Britain.
British citizens or citizens from third countries who have legal residence in France or elsewhere in the European Union can also enter or transit the country from Britain if they have a negative Covid-19 test, the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a statement.
The government listed several categories of people to whom this would be applicable, including those in transit for less than 24 hours in international zones, diplomats and their families, health workers, airline staff, and bus or train operators.
The new rules will be in place until January 6 unless reviewed following bilateral UK-France or EU-wide talks.
The prime minister’s statement did not mention truckers, who have been blocked in Britain in their hundreds since the border closed, with many drivers stuck for days.
An announcement on the resumption of transporting goods would be made late Tuesday in coordination with UK authorities, France's Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on BFM television.
"I urge truckers not to present themselves yet at the embarkation point in Kent in order to avoid clogging up the system, which is now being made operational again," he said.
Djebbari said the aim was to restart goods shipments to avoid gaps in logistics chains, particularly for food products.
"Planes, boats and the Eurostar train will start operating again from [Wednesday] morning," Djebbari tweeted.
British transport minister Grant Shapps said truck drivers stranded in England would begin receiving Covid-19 tests on Wednesday.
"We'll be making sure that tomorrow we're out there, providing tests," Shapps said, but he cautioned that the whole process would take time.
"This will take two or three days for things to be cleared.”
The border shutdown led to some panic-buying: shoppers stripped shelves in some supermarkets of turkey, toilet rolls, bread and vegetables.
While the government said there was enough food for Christmas, market leader Tesco and runner-up Sainsbury’s both said food supplies would soon be affected if the disruption continued.
“If nothing changes, we will start to see gaps over the coming days on lettuce, some salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit,” said Sainsbury’s.
Tesco said it had imposed temporary buying limits on some essential products to avoid shortages.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)