France had banned all unnecessary travel from and to the UK earlier this month, in wake of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. However, following difficulty in reaching their country of residency, France has lifted its COVID prohibition.
It was previously assumed that travel exclusions applied to people crossing France on their way home to another EU country. P & O and Eurotunnel stated on Wednesday, that the French government had published new laws for British citizens. They could not transit from France to reach their homeland in the EU unless they have a French Residency.
No way home!
The British government stated that it was seeking clarification on any new limitations affecting UK citizens. In response, the French government declared that UK citizens living in another EU country are considered third-country nationals. Meaning, they are not permitted to cross France to return home under the present COVID rules. It did, however, point out that:
A large number of British nationals residing in an EU country have travelled in good faith to the UK for the festive season and are experiencing difficulties in reaching their country of residence.
Faced with this situation, instructions of tolerance have been sent to police officers at the borders with the United Kingdom, in order to allow these nationals to transit through France to reach their residence in a country of the European Union.
Reportedly, EU nationals travelling from the UK to their residency in the EU were not affected by the transit ban and were free to travel through France, unlike UK citizens.
Work in progress
Eurotunnel is currently working on a solution to fix this problem. However, they are delighted that the French government has responded positively to its requests for more flexibility in travel rules. The business claimed on Twitter that passengers' flexibility would be subject to their journey to the UK being completed before 28 December 2021. According to a representative for the UK government:
British nationals who are currently in the UK, but resident in the EU, will be able to return to their home through France over the New Year period without disruption.
We remain in close contact with the French authorities and will update our own travel advice with the latest information.
The ambiguity over travel limits comes at a time when France is witnessing unprecedented levels of infection. Meanwhile, Germany has announced that they will uplift the ban on UK travelling citizens on 4 January at midnight local time. When the restriction is lifted, those who are fully vaccinated or have a compelling cause to travel will be able to enter the nation.