Prime minister Jean Castex, while on a visit to Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, has announced tighter health checks for people entering the country.
The extra checks will be focused on people entering from 16 countries designated as 'red' for Covid-19 circulation – all countries which are not on the EU's safe travel list.
The 16 countries are; the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein, Panama, South Africa, Kuwait, Qatar, Israel, Brazil, Peru, Serbia, Algeria, Turkey, Madagascar, India and Oman.
Arrivals from the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Panama must present a negative Covid-19 test result – taken within the previous 72 hours – before they will be allowed to board a plane to France.
Travellers from the other 12 countries are advised to take the test before travelling, but can take it in the airport on arrival in France.
Prime minister Jean Castex at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday afternoon. Photo: AFP
France does not allow general travel to and from these countries but certain people are allowed to enter including French nationals or permanent residents of France of other EU countries, as well as certain other more specific groups.
The tests will be for “French citizens who live in these countries or citizens of these countries with an established residence in France,” Castex told reporters at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport.
France has now announced that those people will have to have a Covid-19 test before they will be allowed into the country.
At present several French airports, including both Paris airports, Bordeaux and Lyon, offer testing on a voluntary basis to passengers arriving on French soil.
People arriving from Europe, the UK, the Schengen zone or the 12 countries currently on the EU safe list will not be compelled to take a test, but can if they want.
Testing is done in the airport and the results emailed out within 48 hours. Tests are free.
People are allowed to leave the airport after their test, but are advised to self isolate until they get the results. If the result is positive they must observe a 14-day quarantine.
Castex told reporters on Friday that arrivals from 'red' countries represent around 3,000 people a day. He said testing would begin immediately and the system would be totally operational by August 1st.
French airports already have extra health measures in place such as temperature screening for arrivals.
There had been speculation that France could close the border with Spain after a spike in cases in Catalonia, but this was not announced.
Nevertheless, Castex said that “we strongly advise French citizens to avoid visiting Catalonia until the health situation improves”.
As for people travelling to France from Spain, “we are in talks with the Spanish and Catalan authorities so that… they try to limit the flow as much as possible,” he said.