France announced Wednesday that all travelers from outside the European Union, whether vaccinated or not, will have to present a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country.
Beginning Saturday, France will require all non-EU travelers to show a test result taken within 48 hours of arrival, while only unvaccinated travelers from the Schengen zone will need to show proof of a test taken 24 hours before, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said at a weekly news conference.
The decision to introduce mandatory negative tests, which can be either a reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or antigen test, was taken to effectively deal with the omicron variant, he said.
This will largely impact travelers from non-EU countries including the UK, the US, Canada, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Russia coming to France to spend Christmas and for end of year celebrations.
Attal said the main issue of mandatory negative tests still left to deal with concerned non-EU travelers coming to the EU.
“On this point, we are working on European coordination. A decision will be taken at the end of the week."
France will also restore air links with the southern African countries where the omicron variant was first identified from Saturday under “strict supervision,” he announced.
For this, a new category of scarlet red countries will be introduced in the travel restriction including South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, from where flights have been suspended since Nov. 26, in addition to Malawi, Zambia and Mauritius.
Attal pointed out that there are currently 13 suspected cases of the omicron variant in France which will be confirmed by health authorities in the coming days and stressed that there is “no panic, but “maximum vigilance” about it.
The fifth wave of COVID-19 infections continued to accelerate with figures for daily cases rising for the second consecutive day. According to health data published late Wednesday, 49,610 new cases and 96 deaths were registered in the last 24 hours after 47,177 cases were recorded the previous day.
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