French police block travellers from leaving EU under new Covid rules

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Border police at France’s largest international airports have turned away passengers bound for destinations beyond the European Union, a day after new Covid-19 rules banning non-essential travel across EU borders came into effect.

Under health restrictions announced last week, travellers wishing to leave the European Union (EU) from France are now obliged to show written proof of an urgent need to do so.

AFP agency reported that by 8am on Monday in one terminal at Paris's main airport Roissy–Charles-de-Gaulle, about 20 passengers out of 300 were refused boarding on flights to destinations outside the EU.

“I said that my mother, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, was ill, but they told me I needed proof,” Touré, a Malian national, told the agency after he was refused boarding on a flight to Bamako.

The agency reported Touré was able to access the flight after acquiring a doctor’s note from Bamako via WhatsApp.

Under the new rules, passengers must show documents at airline counters during check-in and again at border controls, where queues grew long as agents replaced automated passport scanning and often had to decide what constituted an urgent reason for travel.

Travellers also had to show results of a recent negative Covid PCR test along with a passport and other applicable travel documents.

“The idea is to limit the outbound-inbound loops between France and abroad,” Julien Gentile, head of border police for the airport, told AFP.

President Emmanuel Macron decided not to impose a third national lockdown for the time being, unlike neighbours Britain and Germany.

Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the measure Friday as part of new efforts to contain Covid-19 infections and avoid a third nationwide lockdown. Castex also promised tougher enforcement of a 6pm-6am curfew.

Health Minister Olivier Véran said Sunday the number of daily new cases in France had been stable for the past week and that other indicators such as traces of the virus in waste water were reassuring.

(with newswires)