- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 2021

France will ban nonessential travel from the U.K. on Saturday to try and slow the omicron variant that is surging on the other side of the English Channel.

It is a sign that European countries are tightening rules on each other after early travel bans focused on South Africa, where omicron was first detected.

The U.K. saw more than 78,000 lab-confirmed cases, a record, on Wednesday as it fears exponential spread from the new variant.

“Faced with the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the U.K., the government has chosen to reinstate the need for an essential reason for travel from and to the U.K.,” the French government said.

French citizens and European Union nationals can still return to France.

Other travelers will have to have an urgent reason, such as a legal summons or a family medical emergency.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal told the BFMTV channel the restriction was designed to buy time.

“Our strategy is to delay as much as we can the development of omicron in our country and take advantage to push ahead with the booster drive,” he said.

Underscoring the U.K. surge and calls for precautions, Queen Elizabeth II canceled her traditional pre-Christmas lunch for the royal family, The New York Times reported. 

It is the second year in a row the queen had to scrap the House of Windsor’s longtime tradition.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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