As the omicron variant continues to surface throughout the world, the European Union is starting to implement new restrictions.
France will now require all visitors from outside the European Union to provide proof of a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of their planned arrival in addition to proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The change comes as countries around the world are reevaluating their entry procedures in light of the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus. The variant has several mutations scientists worry may impact the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are getting more worried by the day,” Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government, told reporters on Wednesday. “We are not panicking but we have to be as careful as possible, ” he said, according to a Bloomberg report.
France also is requiring a negative COVID-19 test from European travelers, but those visiting from Europe will need to test within 24 hours of their journey to France. Beginning Dec. 15, the country will also require anyone who has received a one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to prove they’ve received a booster.
French officials have already detected two cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus within its mainland borders, Reuters reported. A case also was discovered on Reunion Island last month, the news agency said.
France is among many, including the U.S., that have restricted travel from several southern African countries in an attempt to limit spread of the variant.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. officials will require all inbound international travelers — including vaccinated U.S. citizens — to test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of their departure to the U.S. The U.S. also is extending a requirement that passengers on board domestic flights and taking public transportation continue to wear a face mask through March 18.
At least 23 countries have deleted cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus so far, according to CNBC. South Africa was the first to identify the variant and disclose their discovery to the world.