France's tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne announced Friday that the country would relax its travel ban on UK holidaymakers from Friday morning, assuming they are fully vaccinated.
Since Dec. 18, France has prohibited all non-essential travel from the United Kingdom to contain the spread of the COVID-19-causing Omicron form of the Coronavirus.
However, beginning Friday, fully vaccinated visitors will be permitted to enter France if they can demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of leaving. The necessity to isolate immediately upon arrival will be eliminated.
UK Travel Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the news on Twitter, writing: "I've just spoken to my opposite number @Djebbari JB who confirms that, in light of the UK's declining infection rate, France will lift its ban on British tourists." A COVID test that is negative will still be required."
Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu praised the announcement as a "huge relief" and expressed hope that "the COVID crisis has reached its conclusion."
Eurostar, which operates trains between the United Kingdom and France via the Channel Tunnel, said it would increase service following the lifting of the embargo.
"We welcome the safe relaxation of travel restrictions, which will enable our customers to travel more freely between the UK and France," a representative for the firm said. We are prepared to accept additional passengers and will expand the frequency of our trips in the coming weeks to provide travelers with greater flexibility and choice."
ABTA, the travel industry's trade association, also applauded the decision. "France is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the United Kingdom," a spokesman said. At this time of year, thousands of people travel there for ski trips, so this will come as a tremendous comfort to those who have holidays scheduled there for the next few weeks and have been waiting impatiently for news."
The largest winter sports operator in the United Kingdom, Crystal Ski, expressed optimism about the commercial future.
"It's been a difficult start to the season with Switzerland and France both imposing short-term bans and complex and ever-changing testing requirements," said Managing Director Chris Logan. "However, with the relaxation of UK testing and the reopening of the Alps to the UK, I'm feeling extremely optimistic."
Germany already lifted the country's ban on British tourists entering on Jan. 4.
Britain also eased its travel restrictions on Jan. 7, eliminating the requirement for travelers returning to the country to undergo pre-departure screening.