France quarantines passengers who refuse to be tested for Covid-19

France has issued compulsory quarantine notices to three people who refused a Covid test at the border as the country brings in tighter health measures for arrivals from overseas.

France quarantines passengers who refuse to be tested for Covid-19
The Covid-19 testing point at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: AFP

From Saturday, August 1st, France brought in tighter border controls which meant that everyone arriving from 16 'high risk' countries must be tested before being allowed into the country.

Passengers from Algeria, Brazil, India, Israel, Kuwait, Madagascar, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa and Turkey are allowed to get their test either before boarding or in the airport when they arrive.

However passengers from the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Panama or Bahrain must present a negative Covid-19 test result – taken within the previous 72 hours – at the airport when boarding and will not be allowed on the plane without one.

READ ALSO Travellers from American banned from entry to France without negative Covid-19 test

French authorities said the first day of the new rules had gone well, but three people who arrived into Lyon airport refused to take the test. They were then issued with an arrêté préfectoral de placement en quarantaine – an order for a compulsory quarantine.

People arriving from within the EU, the UK, the Schengen zone or the 12 countries on the EU's 'safe' list are not required to take a Covid-19 test before entering the country, although there is free testing at airports which people can undertake on a voluntary basis. Results are emailed out within 48 hours.

For passengers outside those areas only essential travel is allowed.

READ ALSO When will Americans be able to travel to France again?


Commenting on the first day of mandatory testing, a French government spokesman said: “Waiting times at airport screening centres were short (less than 30 minutes) at all airports and passengers followed the authorities' requirements.

“Only three passengers refused to submit to testing at Lyon Saint Exupéry airport. The authorities issued a préfectoral quarantine order against them.
“At Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris, 2,671 passengers arrived from these 16 countries.
“All passengers over 11 years of age who did not have negative test results could be tested – this represented 556 passengers on Saturday, August 1st.
“Thanks to the mobilisation of; 80 border police officers, 5 gendarmerie technicians, 50 Paris hospitals staff and Île-de-France regional health authority teams, more than 30 volunteers from civil groups including the Red Cross, nine firefighters from the Paris fire brigade with the capacity to take samples and teams from partner medical analysis laboratories.”
The new procedure will be in place until further notice.
The government spokesman added: “If a passenger has boarded despite the absence of a negative test for travellers coming from countries where it is difficult to carry out a test (eg Algeria, Brazil, India, Israel, Kuwait, Madagascar, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa, Turkey) and who are not only in transit, the border police note the absence of this document and invite the passenger to go to the health area set up as a screening centre in order to carry out the PCR test.
“This area is managed by the teams of the Regional Health Authority.
“Once the test has been carried out, the passenger gives his or her personal details so that he or she can receive the test result and a certificate is given. They can continue their journey, in France or in transit, thanks to this traceability.
“Passengers are contacted again by the health authorities in case of a positive result and then enter the contact tracing system for a follow-up.”


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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.