PARIS (Reuters) -France will reinforce restrictions on unvaccinated travellers from a series of countries to counter a rebound in COVID-19 infections, while opening its doors to those who have received all their shots, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Saturday.
The move comes as France faces a rapid surge in new coronavirus infections and President Emmanuel Macron tries to convince French citizens to accept vaccinations he says are the only way to stop the virus and put the country back on track.
From Sunday, July 18, non-vaccinated people coming from the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece will need to present a COVID-19 test dating from less than 24 hours before travel to enter France.
Currently tests can date from 48 hours for UK travellers and 72 hours for the other countries listed.
Castex's announcement follows Britain's decision on Friday to keep quarantine rules for travellers from France, which had been due to be eased on Monday.
Fully vaccinated travellers from any country of departure will be able to enter France without a test from Saturday, Castex said in a statement.
"Because the vaccines are effective against the virus, and in particular its variant Delta, the constraints weighing on travellers benefiting from a complete vaccination schedule with a vaccine recognised by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Janssen) will be raised from this Saturday, July 17, regardless of the country of origin," he said.
People travelling from Tunisia, Mozambique, Cuba and Indonesia will in addition need to justify their travel, show they have tested negative for COVID-19 before departure and then quarantine for 10 days after arriving. They join a "red list" of countries for which similar rules are already in place.
After falling from more than 42,000 per day in mid-April to less than 2,000 per day in late June, the average number of new infections in France has crept up quickly again, standing now at nearly 11,000 per day.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Catherine Evans)