All travel from UK to France suspended for 48 hours

COVID-19 – United Kingdom - Suspension of all travel from the UK to France for 48 hours – Communiqué

Paris, 20 December 2020

A variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus of the illness COVID-19, named “VUI-2020-12-01”, has been detected in the United Kingdom. Until now virologists following the development of the virus have not issued any special alert regarding this strain, which has been known of since September as one of 12,000 recorded mutations.

On Tuesday 15 December, as soon as the first alerts were issued by the British Government, the [French] Ministry for Solidarity and Health referred the matter to the national reference centres for combating infectious diseases. In response to the referral, the latter established the following:

• This genetic variant does not, at this stage of our knowledge, appear to entail any increased seriousness or any resistance to the vaccine;

• It has not been clearly established at this stage that the “rapid” spread of this mutation in the UK is linked to any intrinsic property of the virus. The fact that this strain is more infectious has not been demonstrated at this stage.

• However, yesterday, Saturday 19 December, in view of the acceleration of the epidemic in the UK over the past few days, the British health authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that this mutation could possibly be more contagious than the other variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Therefore, following a Defence and National Security Council meeting chaired by the French President today, the decision was taken to suspend all travel from the United Kingdom by people for 48 hours from midnight (Paris time) this evening, 20 December, including travel linked to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail. Only unaccompanied freight will therefore be authorized. The movement of people or shipments to the UK is not affected.

This 48-hour period should enable us to pursue two goals:

• To begin a period of coordination between the European Union Member States in order to identify a common policy on regulating and monitoring movement from the United Kingdom;

• To prepare operationally for the safe resumption of movement from the UK from 22 December onwards, which will be based on the compulsory provision of tests on departure.

We shall pay special attention to the specific situation of French nationals who have been planning to return to France to spend the festive season with their families. We urge them to make arrangements now to have PCR tests in the coming days.

Since the WHO also specified that this mutation would have quite a strong infection rate in South Africa, the CSDN [High Council of National Defence] has decided to classify that country, as from tomorrow, among those subject to compulsory tests prior to departure./.

Published on 23/12/2020

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