Mayor closes hiking trails in French Alps over crowding fears

The mayor of a town in the French Alps has closed popular hiking trials after hundreds of people flocked to the area on the Ascension public holiday.

The Chatreuse massif is always a popular hiking spot but Thursday's combination of good weather and a public holiday saw hundreds of cars heading to the area.

Jean-Paul Claret, mayor of Etremont-le-Vieux in the Savoie département, told France Info: “By 10am on Thursday there were already 500 cars parked in the car park and on the roadside.

“If we let it get any higher, we risked a monster traffic jam.”

He ordered the closure of the hiking trails and around 200 cars were turned back in the first hour after the closure.

READ ALSO How does France's 100km rule work?


Since May 11th when France began to lift its strict lockdown rules, people have been able to travel up to 100km from their home without the need for a permission form and outdoor spaces including forests and – in the green zone – parks have reopened.

Since Thursday was a public holiday for the religious festival of Ascension, many people are following the French tradition to faire le pont (do the bridge) and taking Friday as a day off to create a long weekend.

But as this is the first holiday since lockdown began to be lifted on May 11th, many local authorities in areas popular with visitors have been worried about crowding and large numbers of visitors arriving from other départements.

In northern France, local authorities closed the beaches just days after reopening due to 'unacceptable behaviour'.

READ ALSO Dynamic or static: What are the rules for going to the beach in France?

The Savoie département is extremely popular with both tourists and second home owners – thanks to its stunning scenery, ski resorts and winning way with melted cheese dishes – and local authorities brought in extra restrictions during lockdown to prevent an influx of second home owners into the area.



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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.