UK nationals will be able to pass through France as they return home to EU countries.
France has suspended a travel ban on British people returning to their homes in the EU after spending Christmas with friends and relatives in the UK.
Non-essential travel from the UK to France has been largely prohibited since December 18, in a bid to limit the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
But those rules effectively created a ban on travellers attempting to return to any EU country other than France by Eurotunnel, Eurostar or ferry.
The UK government’s advice, as published on its website, says: “The French authorities confirmed on December 30 that UK nationals who are resident in other EU member states and who have travelled to the UK for the Christmas period will be able to transit France over the New Year period in order to return home to their country of residence.
“Transit for less than 24 hours in the international zone of an airport is listed under ‘essential reasons’ to travel.”
A spokesman for the French interior ministry confirmed the policy reversal, news agency AFP reported.
According to the outlet the spokesman said: “A large number of British nationals residing in an EU country have travelled in good faith to the UK for the festive season and are experiencing difficulties in reaching their country of residence.
“Faced with this situation, instructions of tolerance have been sent to police officers at the borders with the United Kingdom, in order to allow these nationals to transit through France to reach their residence in a country of the European Union, after this Christmas and New Year period.”
A UK government spokesman said: “The French authorities have confirmed that British nationals will face no additional restrictions while travelling through the holiday period.
“British nationals who are currently in the UK, but resident in the EU, will be able to return to their home through France over the New Year period without disruption.
“We remain in close contact with the French authorities.”
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Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the operator of the vehicle-carrying train service from Folkestone to Calais via the Channel Tunnel, announced the reversal on Twitter on Thursday – less than two days after it said the ban was brought in.
It said: “Passengers travelling from the UK, with residency in other EU countries under the Withdrawal Agreement, can again transit through France to return home. Subject to their journey to UK being completed before December 28, 2021. This comes into force immediately.”
Despite allowing UK citizens to travel through to reach homes abroad, people from the UK are still largely banned from going to France unless they have a “compelling reason”.
Meanwhile, Germany will lift a ban on UK tourists entering the country from January 4.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps described the move as a “welcome development from our German colleagues”.