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France relaxes restrictions for travel to 7 non-EU countries, including UK

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By Euronews
Members of Civil Protection check air travellers documents at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, near Paris, Friday Feb.5, 2021.
Members of Civil Protection check air travellers documents at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, near Paris, Friday Feb.5, 2021.   -   Copyright  Gonzalo Fuentes/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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France announced on Thursday it was relaxing rules for travel to and from seven non-EU countries, including Britain.

Starting Friday, "it will no longer be necessary to prove a compelling reason for travel to or from Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The restrictions were enacted five weeks ago to contain a spread of new coronavirus variants.

However, the statement notes the-so called British variant is now "very widely" disseminated in France, making the travel ban irrelevant.

According to the latest data published by the French Public Health Agency last week, the British variant now makes up 59% of infections in the country.

People travelling to and from the seven countries concerned by the new rules will still need to present a negative PCR test conducted less than 72 hours before departure, the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Border restrictions for other non-EU countries remain in place, but the list of "compelling reasons" accepted by French authorities to travel has been extended.

It will include "married couples and civil partners for whom one member lives abroad; minors attending school in France whose family home is established abroad; couples with children who are separated, with one living in France and the other abroad," the Foreign Ministry said.

France has been hardly hit by COVID-19, with a total nearing four million cases and 90,000 deaths since the pandemic started a year ago.

Despite a recent rise in infections, France has so far avoided a third national lockdown, relying instead on a 6 pm-6 am curfew, local weekend lockdown measures and border restrictions.