France on Thursday eased travel restrictions to seven countries outside the European Union, including Britain, saying trips to and from the countries would no longer need to be justified by essential reasons.
The French government from Jan. 31 banned all travel outside the EU without a valid excuse to limit the spread of COVID-19 variants. But due to the changing pandemic situation, "it will no longer be necessary to prove a compelling reason for travel to or from Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United Kingdom," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The measure was adopted as an attempt to limit the spread of the more infectious variant of COVID-19 that first emerged in England.
But this variant is now accounting for well over half of the number of new COVID-19 infections in France. The restrictions were eased "due to the very wide spread of the British variant in France and the particular health situation of those countries," the ministry said.
Travelers arriving in France from the seven countries will still have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken a maximum of 72 hours beforehand, it said. Travel to other countries outside the EU still remains limited to essential reasons but the foreign ministry said the number of exemptions is being increased to allow couples to reunite and children to attend school.