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PARIS: France said it will ease coronavirus curbs introduced last month on travellers from Britain, enabling vaccinated tourists to visit from Friday providing they have a negative test.

The government has decided to end a blanket ban on non-essential travel, announced on December 16 when "the epidemic was spreading at a spectacular rate in the United Kingdom," the prime minister's office said Thursday.

Paris was concerned about the spread of the Omicron variant at the time, but daily recorded cases of Covid-19 in France have since surpassed those in Britain.

"The wide circulation today of the variant in both countries has led the government to make the following changes," the statement from Jean Castex's office said.

All travellers from the UK will have to show a negative PCR or antigen test taken 24 hours before their departure.

Israel to lift travel ban to US, UK amid Omicron spread

The decision will allow thousands of winter-sports enthusiasts to head to the French Alps, popular with British skiers who had to cancel holidays booked over the Christmas and New Year period.

The unvaccinated will continue to face restrictions, however.

They will have to provide a "compelling reason" to travel such as a family emergency, and have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in France at an address "that will be checked by security forces", the French statement said.

The vaccinated face no such restrictions.

The French travel rules came at a time when relations between the British and French governments were at historic lows due to a host of disagreements related to Brexit, as well as cross-Channel migration and a poached submarine contract with Australia.

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