Thermal cameras and plexiglas: Paris airport reopens after three-month coronavirus closure

Orly airport serving the French capital reopened on Friday for the first time in nearly three months after air travel collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic, but flights will run at a fraction of the normal rate.

Thermal cameras and plexiglas: Paris airport reopens after three-month coronavirus closure

A plane operated by low-cost carrier Transavia took off at 6.25am for Porto in Portugal, marking the first commercial flight since the airport south of Paris came to a halt on March 31st.

Firefighters hosed the plane with a festive “water salute” before it took to the runway. 

For nearly three months, all commercial flights from Paris have taken off from the main Charles de Gaulle airport, to the north of the capital, in order to rationalise costs.

MAP: Where can you travel to from France?


To regain the trust of passengers Orly airport has taken measures to check the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 7,000 posters and stickers have been put up to keep people at a safe distance, alongside distributers of hand sanitiser and plexiglass windows at check-in desks and other counters to minimise contact between customers and staff.

Thermal cameras are being used to check the temperatures of passengers.

Airlines including Air France, easyJet, Vueling and Air Caraibes account for most of the traffic at Orly, flying to the Caribbean, Reunion Island, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Croatia, among others.

70 flights a day

On Friday, officials expect around 8,000 passengers, less than 10 percent of the daily pre-virus average of around 90,000.

A total of 70 flights will take off on that day, compared to the normal run of 600 before the coronavirus health crisis.

READ ALSO Who will be quarantined on arrival in France?

Traffic is due to increase to 173 flights per day in July but it will depend much on whether Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia reopen their borders as well as on whether the virus remains under control.


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Will France’s Covid-19 health pass be consigned to the past?

France suspended but did not cancel the Covid pass in March - but the government has suggested it might not return, even with the country in the grip of the virus’s seventh wave

Will France's Covid-19 health pass be consigned to the past?

Cases of Covid-19 in France have risen 57.8 percent in the past week with daily cases topping the 200,000 mark on Tueday.

The virus’s seventh wave has the country in its grip – but it seems the government has no plans to reintroduce vaccine pass measures.

READ ALSO How serious will France’s seventh wave of Covid-19 be?

The vaccine pass –  itself a two-month development of the old health pass which had been required for entry to certain venues such as bars, restaurants and cafes – was suspended on March 14th, as cases of Covid-19 in France fell. But the health emergency law that enforced it was still in effect and allowed it to be reactivated at any time.

That law runs out on July 31st. Now, it seems the pass will not return. Reports in the French press last month claimed that the health ministry was discussing the possibility of re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire, a bill intended to replace the current health emergency laws makes no mention of it. 

The new president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, confirmed this week that the vaccine pass was not included in the new bill, entitled “health monitoring and security”, which will be submitted to the National Assembly for debate from July 11 and will, if passed, come into law on August 1st – the day after the current law expires.

“[It] is not what is planned in the text of the law that will be submitted to parliament this week,” Braun-Pivet said.

Rather, the bill extends epidemic surveillance and contact case identification systems until March 31st, 2023. 

The second provides for the implementation of border control measures – such as requiring visitors to France to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test – if a so-called variant of concern were to spread rapidly abroad, as confirmed by new government spokesman Olivier Véran. 

Currently, most health rules in place at the height of the pandemic have been relaxed. Masks are only required in French hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are also recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

READ ALSO French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport