France will close its borders to non-EU countries on Sunday (Picture: Getty)
France will close its borders to all countries outside the European Union from Sunday, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced.
Anyone arriving from other EU countries will need to show evidence of a negative coronavirus test, he said following an emergency government health security meeting at the presidential palace.
UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said hauliers would not be affected by the closures, insisting trade would continue to ‘flow smoothly’ across the Channel.
He tweeted: ‘French PM Jean Castex has announced that France is to close its borders to all countries outside the EU from Sunday.
‘However, I can confirm that this does NOT apply to hauliers, so trade will continue to flow smoothly.’
Thousands of hauliers were left stranded in Kent in December when France closed its borders following the discovery of a fast-spreading coronavirus strain in the UK.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex gestures during a press conference on Covid-19 (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
All large shopping centres will close across France and travel will be limited to and from its overseas territories.
The prime minister also ordered increased police checks of those flouting the country’s 12-hour curfew, holding secret parties or reopening restaurants in breach of closure orders dating back to October.
It comes as infections, hospital admissions and deaths have all continued to steadily rise over recent weeks.
Although they have not spiked, Mr Castex warned of the ‘great risk’ posed by the new variants of Covid-19.
A coronavirus jab being administered to 92-year-old Issy les Moulineaux (Picture:Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Doctors have been urging ministers to order a new nationwide shutdown like those imposed in other countries across Europe.
Mr Castex said the latest measures are an attempt to avoid the economic cost attached to a third national lockdown.
He said: ‘Our duty is to put everything in place to avoid a new lockdown, and the coming days will be decisive.
‘More than ever we should do everything to respect the rules.’
Currently, more than 60% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.
France has reported more than 75,000 deaths, the seventh highest in the world.
Elsewhere, Michel Barnier, who was the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, called for ‘co-operation’ between Brussels and the UK over the supply of vaccines across Europe.
His intervention came as Brussels was forced to backtrack on its threat to override part of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland after widespread condemnation of the move as part of its export controls on coronavirus vaccines.
Mr Barnier said: ‘We are facing an extraordinarily serious crisis, which is creating a lot of suffering, which is causing a lot of deaths in the UK, in France, in Germany, everywhere.
‘And I believe we must face this crisis with responsibility, certainly not with the spirit of oneupmanship or unhealthy competition.’
He added: ‘I recommend preserving the spirit of co-operation between us.’
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