By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - France on Thursday announced tighter border controls with the UK as cases of the new coronavirus omicron variant rise exponentially in Great Britain.
“The omicron variant will become the majority in Great Britain, if it is not already, in the coming hours and days. It is at least twice as contagious as delta, which was itself even more contagious than the initial strain,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced on French television.
As of Dec. 18, entry points into France will be tightened, Attal told BFM TV.
As a fifth wave of the coronavirus sweeps France as well, and with 240 new documented cases of omicron already on its shores, health officials are deeply concerned about the rising cases of the new variant.
Upon return from the UK, each traveler must have a negative result from a PCR test – not a rapid test – within 24 hours, a change from the prior time limit of 48 hours.
“We will limit the reasons for coming from the UK to France,” Attal added.
“It will be limited to French nationals and residents and their families. Anything that is tourism or business travel for staff who do not have French or European nationality or residing in France will be limited.”
French citizens upon returning from any travel to the UK must also register themselves and their travel on an app to make government officials aware of the time spent, as well as self-isolate for seven days.
Isolation can be lifted within 48 hours after a negative PCR test result.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged last week that there is a “tidal wave” of new cases across the country.
Attal’s comments came on the same day as leaders of 27 EU states met in Brussels to figure out measures to counter the virulent strain sweeping the continent.
A health defense council will also meet on Friday afternoon in Paris, where “new decisions” could be made, according to Attal.