France Weighs New Border Restrictions With U.K. Against Variant

France will likely decide on Wednesday whether additional restrictions are needed at its border with the U.K. to fend off a coronavirus variant first identified in India.

The U.K. is trying to make a case to France that extra curbs aren’t necessary, citing the large share of its vaccinated population, a person familiar with the discussions said. About 70% of adults in Britain have received at least one vaccine dose, and 40% both doses, but a new and potentially more contagious strain of coronavirus is spreading fast.

Tougher restrictions on U.K. arrivals, such as mandatory quarantine or the need to justify travel, could affect the already-struggling operations of the Eurostar International Ltd. high-speed rail service, which shareholders including France have rescued, as well as airlines.

France continues to strongly recommend against international travel. Currently, people traveling from the U.K. to France don’t need to justify the reason for their trip, but must show a negative PCR test and commit to self-isolate for a week, even if they’ve been vaccinated.

On Sunday, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio that the country was considering stricter measures for passengers arriving from the U.K. because of the variant. Germany also said last week it would impose a two-week quarantine on such travelers, even if they test negative for Covid.

Spokespeople for the French ministry of foreign affairs didn’t return multiple requests for comment. A spokesperson for the U.K. government didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

France aims to re-open international air travel to some countries by mid-June, in coordination with the European Union. The bloc, which closed external borders in March for non-essential travel, will establish a “green list” of countries whose citizens will be allowed to move around the bloc by June 9, Le Drian has said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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