France to allow some travellers from UK if they take Covid tests - reports

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France’s government will announce Tuesday some travellers will be allowed to enter from Britain if they test negative for Covid-19, sources told French media. The measure would be the first development since France closed the border Sunday due to fears over a new coronavirus strain.

The entries would apply to French citizens and British permanent residents of France, including hauliers. Others, including British non-residents of France, would not be allowed to enter.

The measure was to be announced mid-afternoon, according to government sources cited by Franceinfo news website. It was not clear how long the measures would remain in place.

It was also not clear whether travellers would be required to take a PCR test, which can take up to 24 hours to analyse, or a more rapid antigen test, which returns more false negatives.

The measure would start to ease a rapid halt to travel that has caused traffic chaos and disrupted supply lines, making for backed-up freight traffic in the UK and nearly deserted ports in France.

Non-essential travel to UK

The European Union (EU) meanwhile recommended that its 27 members allow essential travel including freight to and from Britain, but to avoid non-essential travel until further notice.

“Given the current uncertainties and in light of the precautionary principle, Member States should take cordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU,” European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said after talks on coordinating responses among EU countries.

“At the same time, blanket travel bans should not prefent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes,” he added.

France and many other countries in and beyond Europe imposed bans on traffic from Britain on Sunday, after UK medical teams determined a potentially extra-contagious strain of the coronavirus causing Covid-19 had spread widely in the south of the country.