France eases COVID-19 restrictions on international travel

PARIS (Reuters) - France will ease some COVID-19 restrictions on international travel outside Europe, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry said in a statement that travellers to or from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Britain and Singapore would no longer need a compelling reason to travel.

French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said this easing was due to the improving health situation in those countries.

“The list includes Britain, because the UK variant now also circulates widely in France,” he said on his Twitter feed.

All other restrictions, such as a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test less than 72 hours before travel, would remain in place, the ministry said, adding a decree was due to be published on Friday.

Lemoyne said that for other non-European Union countries the list of legitimate travel motives would be widened, notably to take into account family situations.

The foreign ministry statement said that among new legitimate reasons for travel would the fact that one person in a couple - both married or in civil partnership - is living abroad for professional reasons.

Other legitimate reasons would be for families living abroad but who have children in school in France, couples with children abroad and in France, students taking an exam, as well as people returning to their principal residence if that is in France.

The ministry said that in general it strongly recommends limiting international travel as much as possible.

France announced tighter rules on travel from outside the European Union on Jan. 14.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Alex Richardson and Angus MacSwan