COVID-19: France to close borders to all countries outside the European Union

France set to close its borders to all countries outside the European Union from Sunday, according to prime minister Jean Castex.

All people looking to enter from the EU will need a negative PCR test, except for commuters.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps later clarified the ban would not apply to hauliers, adding “trade will continue to flow smoothly”.

Mr Castex said all large shopping centres will close and travel to the nation’s overseas territories will be restricted as well.

The prime minister ordered increased police checks of people who violate France’s 12 hour-a-day curfew, hold secret parties, or open restaurants.

The measures have been put in place to avoid a third lockdown, according to Mr Castex.

He said: “We know the grave impact (of a lockdown). Tonight, looking at the data of the past few days, we consider that we can still give ourselves a chance to avoid one.”

Mr Castex added: “Our duty is to do all we can to avoid a new lockdown, the coming days will be crucial.”

Less than a week ago, the country’s top scientific adviser for the pandemic said that France will likely need to move into a third lockdown as soon as February due to the spreading of new variants of the virus.

Infections, hospitalisations and deaths have been steadily increasing in France recently, with 60% of the nation’s intensive care beds now occupied by coronavirus patients.

More than 75,000 people have died with the virus in France, the seventh highest tally in the world.

France’s efforts to deploy the vaccine have slowed due to supply issues with the Pfizer and Moderna jabs.

According to the country’s health ministry, 1.45 million people have been vaccinated in France so far.

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