As all of Europe now registers very high rates of coronavirus infection, primarily from the more transmissible Omicron variant, a number of restrictions on international travel are expected to be relaxed within days.
Likely the first to go will be pre-travel health passes for the fully-vaccinated going to the UK, according to a number of reports. However, the Day-2 PCR test requirement is likely to stay.
Also likely to change, although not immediately, is the French ban on travellers from the UK who do not have a compelling reason to visit. In other words, UK tourists and business visitors are not currently allowed into the country. The same restrictions do not apply to EU nationals.
A change of heart by the French authorities – reversing what was clearly a political rather than a health decision – is being fought for by tourism operators in ski destinations such as Val d’Isere, which relies for more than 40 percent of its business on British winter holidaymakers, although the French government has promised some financial compensation.
A compelling reason to relax travel rules for UK visitors is the fact that France is now at least as badly affected by the Omicron variant as is the UK. However, with cross-Channel relations as they are, such logic is likely to fall on deaf ears.
FILE PHOTO: A closed chairlift in Val d’Isere in December Reuters