Travel news – live: France expected to lift UK travel ban as politician hints at easing of restrictions

France will allow in vaccinated UK travellers from tomorrow, 14 January, French minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has confirmed.

“We are relaxing the entry conditions to France from the UK for vaccinated travelers,” tweeted Lemoyne.

“End of compelling reasons and isolation on arrival a negative test

“The decree will be published tomorrow morning, with immediate entry into force.”

However, no rules will change for unvaccinated travellers, who must still have a “compelling reason” to enter, as per the 18 December rule change.

If they meet the government’s criteria for entry, unvaccinated visitors must provide a negative Covid test (a PCR or an antigen within the 24 hours before travel) and self-isolate for 48 hours, emerging only with a negative test result after that.

Holidaymakers to France should also check local vaccine passport rules, which change on Saturday.

Follow the latest updates below:


Ski instructor bookings forecast to rise by 300%

Ski and snowboard instructor marketplace Maison Sport is forecasting a 300 per cent rise in instructor bookings over the next two weeks, compared with the previous period.

The company already saw a record day of bookings on Wednesday of this week, as anticipation grew around the prospect of France reopening.

Now the announcement has been made, it expects an “unprecendented surge” of demand for instructors.

Founder and CEO Nick Robinson says: “This is more welcome news at long last for the industry, particularly for the many local instructors who have been incredibly frustrated by the protracted lifting of the border restrictions. Morzine has been particularly affected, with large numbers of instructors facing the prospect of no bookings for the next few weeks.

“It may be a case of from rags to riches for many instructors now as we expect an unprecedented surge of bookings from now until the end of the season, as the majority of customers have been holding off as they waited for this news before confirming lessons.

“With so much great availability in late winter, after a slow December, we expect the next two weeks to be the biggest in our company’s history, with a 300 per cent increase in bookings anticipated.”

Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 15:59


Cyprus trips made slightly cheaper as antigen tests allowed

Authorities in Cyprus have announced that either antigen or PCR tests will be accepted for visitors’ pre-travel Covid tests, meaning slightly lower testing costs for holidaymakers.

The change in rules comes in tomorrow morning.

“Passengers aged 12 years old and over who arrive in Cyprus as of January 14 at 0500 local time, will have the option of taking a PCR test carried out up to 72 hours before their departure or an antigen rapid test carried out up to 24 hours before their departure,” said the country’s Transport, Communications and Works Ministry on Wednesday.

All arrivals over 12 must still take a PCR test upon arrival at Cyprus’ airports, at their own expense, regardless of vaccination status.

Those over 12 who have not yet had a booster jab must also take a further PCR test 72 hours after arrival.

Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 15:34


What is changing for France’s vaccine passports?

One day after most Britons will be allowed back into France, the country’s rules are set to change around proof of vaccination and entry to venues.

On 6 January, the French government voted in plans to convert its health pass (pass sanitaire) to a vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) – meaning that full vaccination will be required to access public spaces such as restaurants, bars and public transport.

Until now, France’s TousAntiCovid app could be used by people who were not fully vaccinated – displaying a recent negative test result instead of vaccine proof – but as of Saturday, it will only work for fully jabbed visitors.

Meanwhile, from January 15, everyone over the age of 18 must have received a booster to still be considered “fully” vaccinated in France.

There will be two different vaccine passes: Mobilité (for travel) and Activité (for access to venues such as restaurants and museums).

Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 14:41


RAF pilot to fire space rocket from Virgin jumbo jet later today

A Virgin Orbit space rocket will be launched from a Virgin Atlantic plane over the Pacific Ocean today, flown by an experienced RAF pilot.

Matthew “Stanny” Stannard will take off at around 12.30pm Pacific Time (8.30pm GMT) on a mission to launch the 70ft “space booster”.

The modified Boeing 747-400 – a former Virgin Atlantic passenger jet named Cosmic Girl – will fly out over the Pacific with the rocket attached under its left wing.

About an hour into the flight, the pilot will drop the rocket from about 35,000ft – at which point its first engine will ignite, taking it on a climb into orbit.

Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 13:53


Do not go directly to jail: tips on filling out the French travel forms

While British travellers and the industry wait to find out when admission to France will be possible, these are the two documents that UK visitors will need to complete.

The first is the passenger arrival form. When you complete this, note that the UK is Royaume-Uni on the drop-down menu.

There is a “zipcode” requirement for your birthplace – unless you were born in France, type 999.

When it asks, “What type of accommodation will you be staying in?” select “Individual accommodation”. Do not select “Jail”, one of the other options on the drop-down menu.

You will need to give an approximate location for where you are staying, for which a zipcode is required. For example, tap 75 into the drop-down menu for Paris and choose the appropriate option for the arrondisement where you will stay.

The document generated when you complete it must be accompanied by your “sworn undertaking to comply with rules for entry” – asserting that you have not been suffering from coronavirus symptoms and “have no knowledge of having been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 during the last 14 days”.

Simon Calder13 January 2022 13:19


Severe delays on Southeastern and Thameslink services after freight train derailed

Passengers experienced severe delays on Southeastern Railway and Thameslink services this morning after the derailment of a freight train at Hoo Junction.

According to Network Rail, “One wheel has come off the rails and some wagons are blocking the down line”.

The body responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure tweeted early this morning: “Our teams have sourced a rescue locomotive and driver who should be on site shortly. Then they will attach to the wagons blocking passenger trains and pull them clear and back into the sidings.”

Helen Coffey13 January 2022 12:57


When exactly does France ban end and how soon will transport resume?

In terms of the timing of the border reopening, the minister’s wording was simply: “The decree will be published tomorrow [Friday] morning, with immediate entry into force.” The Independent is urgently seeking clarification.

Given the absence of British visitors to France, anyone seeking a city break to Paris or Nice, or a ski trip to the French Alps, over the coming weekend will find an absence of crowds – and plenty of accommodation availability.

While ferry firms, Eurotunnel shuttles (carrying cars from Folkestone to Calais) and Eurostar trains (carrying passengers from London to Paris) are running to schedule, with plenty of space available, airlines are not able to ramp up so quickly.

Jet2 says its ski flights to France will begin again on 22 January, one week after the ban is lifted.

Meanwhile ferry operators are reporting “phones red hot” as travellers book trips to France.

Simon Calder13 January 2022 11:49


Ask Simon Calder your travel questions

As France lifts its travel ban on Brits – but along with Austria and Germany, ups its use of vaccine passports for entry to venues – the way we travel is once again changing.

Luckily The Independent’s travel expert Simon Calder is on the case – and will be on hand to reassure readers on everything from fears around other rogue travel bans to whether your proof of vaccination will get you into that holiday restaurant.

To ask Simon your travel questions, simply sign up to comment on the article below – if you haven’t left a question before, you’ll need to register first.

Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 11:25


Jet2 resumes ski flights to France

Jet2 has announced that it will resume ski flights to Lyon, Chambery and Grenoble from 22 January.

The budget airline will also resume flights and city breaks to Paris from 11 February.

Several promotions to coincide with France’s travel ban lift also mean discounts of 10 per cent on some flights, and 50 per cent on some city-break packages (for bookings made before 7 February).

The airline’s CEO Steve Heapy says: “This is the positive news that skiers and snowboarders have been looking forward to, and the spike in bookings for ski flights has been both sharp and immediate.

“The snow conditions in the French Alps are said to be excellent, meaning our customers are jumping at the chance to get back on the slopes.

“We know how much our customers want to get back to the French Alps and we are very pleased to be flying them there again from next weekend onwards.

“This is yet more great news for the travel industry and further reinforces our already strong belief that 2022 is a year to look forward to with real confidence.”

Jet2 said bookings remain under pressure for the winter season (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

(PA Archive)

Lucy Thackray13 January 2022 10:55


‘I can only hope that we have seen the last border closure’: industry reacts to France update

Leading travel figures have welcomed the end of the French travel ban on British visitors.

The border will open some time on Friday 14 January, ministers have announced, almost four weeks after British visitors were barred because of concerns over the Omicron variant.

Julia Simpson, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said: “Once a variant is endemic, closing borders is pointless and only damages livelihoods – especially in travel and tourism, one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic.”

Chief executive of Brittany Ferries, Christophe Mathieu, said: “This news comes as a great relief and I can only hope that we have seen the last border closure of this Covid crisis.”

Simon Calder13 January 2022 10:30


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