Have you been been affected by France’s Covid rule changes?
Whether you have been turned away or travelled through France to reach the EU this week, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
British nationals who live in the EU have been turned away from the Eurotunnel and told they are banned from going home through France due to strict Covid rules.
There was confusion last night as Eurotunnel warned its passengers that anyone with homes in countries such as Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany could no longer drive or take a train through France to get there.
There were also unconfirmed reports that P&O Ferries had issued similar advice to their passengers. The company’s website directs its customers to the French authorities for the most up-to-date travel advice.
Official advice on the French Government website insists Brits travelling through France must have a ‘compelling reason’ to do so but what constitutes a ‘compelling reason’ seems to be the point of confusion.
The French Interior Ministry told MailOnline Eurotunnel was wrong and, providing travellers have documentation, they should be free to travel.
Despite this, there were reports from Brits living in the EU that they had been barred from travelling and told that reaching their home was no longer considered a ‘compelling reason’ for transit through France.
Roland Moore, who works as a public affairs director in Brussels, says he was escorted off the Eurotunnel ‘like a criminal’ and handed a piece of paper detailing the new restrictions on British nationals.
British nationals who live in the EU have been turned away from the Eurotunnel (pictured) and told they are banned from going home through France due to strict new Covid travel rules
Eurotunnel has warned Britons with second homes on the continent that they will no longer be able to travel through France to their homes in countries such as Spain and Portugal
He said on Twitter: ‘Tonight I was denied access to the Eurotunnel by the FR customs.
‘I was told being a Belgian resident (M card holder) was no longer a compelling reason for transiting FR to go home. I was given this document by the FR customs & told to leave.’
In response to Eurotunnel who told him they were not aware of the rule at the time of his travel, he added: ‘Imagine how I felt. Stranded and deserted last night and escorted off @LeShuttle property like a criminal.’
He later made it home by travelling on the Eurostar, which does not stop in France and leaving his car in the UK.
Victoria Arnold, who lives in Belgium with her partner and children, had planned to return home today after visiting her parents in South Wales.
But when news broke about the restrictions, she contacted the Belgian embassy in Paris and was told to gather as much evidence as possible.
She told MailOnline: ‘We are currently in South Wales visiting my parents, who we haven’t seen in a long time due to Covid, having left on December 17 – before the ban on travel came in.
‘We are Eurotunnel frequent travellers and were supposed to be going back to Belgium today via France.
‘However my M card which has replaced the Belgian E card since Brexit is not enough to travel on.
‘I have of course my British passport but I now need to obtain proof the children are mine and to prove my residence in order to travel.
‘It is causing no end of stress as my partner needs to get back to Belgium to work.
‘We called the Belgian embassy in Paris – they said the French border are fed up with all the constant changes.
‘I’ve been told to get as much proof as possible as it’s pot luck if they will let me and my family through or not.’
The family has postponed their return until the new year to give them time to acquire the relevant documents from the Belgian authorities.
Meanwhile, many Britons travelling through France said they were able to reach Belgium if they had their M-card – a residency document issued to Brits who qualify as ‘beneficiaries’ of the Brexit agreement – and if they were travelling with a partner who was an EU national.
The document Roland Moore was handed when he says he was escorted off the Eurotunnel due to a rule change by French authorities which barred him from travelling through France
French President Emmanuel Macron, pictured, has introduced new restrictions to help stop the spread of Covid-19 across the country which limit travel through France for British citizens
French authorities said anyone travelling through France, including Britons, require ‘compelling reasons’ for their journey.
On the French Government website, it states that ‘nationals of the European Union or equivalent,’ as well as their partners and children, ‘who have their main residence in France or who join, in transit through France, their main residence in a country of the European Union’ are considered to have a compelling reason for traveling from the U.K. through France.
However, Mr Moore says he was presented with a piece of paper by border officials which said the rules had changed.
It stated: ‘From now on, border guards should no longer consider as a compelling reason the fact, for a British national beneficiary of the [Brexit] withdrawal agreement residing in a Member State other than France, to transit through France to regain his domicile.’
But, as baffled passengers expressed their anger, an Interior Ministry spokesman in Paris told MailOnline last night that reaching a home in an EU country WAS a ‘compelling reason’.
The line he quoted said compelling reasons included ‘a third-country national (UK included), [or a] holder of a valid French or European residence permit or long-stay visa … who joins, in transit through France, his main residence in a country of the European Union or the like’.
Confusion: Eurotunnel’s operator said Britons are banned from travelling through France to their homes in other EU countries, however, the French Interior ministry insists this is not true
According to French officials British nationals with a home in another EU country, such Belgium, Germany, Spain or Italy will require evidence of their home, such as a residency permit, tax forms, or utility bills.
However, the implementation of these rules has led to growing confusion.
It follows President Emmanuel Macron’s government imposing new restrictions to try and control spiralling Coronavirus cases in France.
From Friday, wearing masks on the streets of Paris will be mandatory.
Local authorities will levy a €135 for people without a face covering.
Earlier, Health Minister Olivier Veran told lawmakers France was seeing a ‘tsunami’ of COVID-19 infections, fuelled by both the Delta and Omicron variants of the disease.
Mask-wearing is already mandatory inside public buildings and public transport across France.