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Coronavirus crisis proves ties between France and UK

This month, teams from across the Embassy, in particular our consular colleagues, have been working hard to support British citizens affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

As I write, there have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in France, which includes six British nationals.

One man, an 80-year-old Chinese tourist, has died.

France, like the UK, is well-prepared for such outbreaks.

The situation has demonstrated how closely the UK and France work together – my team worked around the clock with the French government’s cellule de crise unit to get British people out of Wuhan on a French flight.

Seven British nationals and four family members returned on that French flight and a week later we were pleased to be able to reciprocate, with 35 French nationals returning on a British flight. 

I dropped into the French crisis centre with the head of the Foreign Office and we were able to say thank you in person – with a gift of some British cheese!

Our teams have been working hard to support British citizens across the world, especially, of course, in China.

We have also used flights to supply additional aid to support China’s response.

A single flight delivered 1,800 goggles, 381,000 gloves, 21,600 wipes, and 200 medical gowns to Wuhan Wuchang Hospital. 

Advice on how to protect yourself from coronavirus is available on the NHS website.

Franco-British cooperation was also on display when I visited Besançon to meet with the 1st (France) Division and its British deputy commander Brigadier Al Veitch.

Born out of the Lancaster House Treaty, the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force will become fully operational this summer.

Strong links between our armies, especially the bond that has been forged between 1st (France) and 1st (UK) Divisions, is a testament to the strength of our friendship.

On January 31, the French Interior Ministry announced that a new website for applying for residency will be launched at the start of July.

If you are living in France now, or move here before January 1, 2021, this new system will enable you to formalise your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

You will need to apply by June 30, 2021, whether or not you already have an EU carte de séjour.

We will provide further information on the process as soon as we can.

During the transition period, there will be no changes to driving licence validity.

The international driving licence centre in Nantes advises you should only exchange your UK licence for a French one if it is lost or stolen, expires in the next six months, needs to be amended for new driving categories, or because of an infraction.

You will be able to do this via the new ANTS website, which opens on March 3. To find out more, please visit

Some of you may be planning to hit the slopes. Before you go, make sure you have valid travel insurance which covers snow sports.

You can find out more by visiting

If you prefer activities at a lower altitude, Paris Fashion Week runs until March 4. The UK will be promoting UK excellence in sustainable fashion.

A Turner exhibition opens at the Musée Jacquemart-André on March 13 and a James Tissot exhibition opens at the Musée d’Orsay on March 24.                                    

Please keep in touch!

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