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Unmarried couples to be allowed to reunite in France despite Covid-19 travel restrictions

Lovelorn couples separated by coronavirus travel restrictions may now qualify for a travel exemption to reunite in France, the government announced.

Unmarried couples to be allowed to reunite in France despite Covid-19 travel restrictions
Cross-border couples may soon be able to reunite in France. Photo: AFP

Following in the footsteps of Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, France has decided to make it easier for international unmarried couples to reunite under Covid.

While travel is now possible between the majority of European countries, there are still strict restrictions in place for many countries outside Europe.

“This virus does not like love, we do!” said France's Secretary of State in charge of tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne in a tweet published on August 8th.

The French government had set up a “specific measure for partners separated by the border closures,” Lemoyne wrote, enabling people to send in “a request for a pass through (the border) to the closest consulate.”

 

Only couples where one partner has France as their main country of residence can apply for the pass.

'My heart breaks every day'

Long-distance couples have campaigned from all over the world for weeks under the slogans #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential, calling on governments to make allowances for those who are in serious relationships but are not married.

 

“France, please!” wrote Paloma, a 24-year-old Brazilian who has been in a relationship with her France-based boyfriend, 26, for eight years now.

Separated for six months now, Paloma begged France to make exemptions for people in the same situation as her:

 

The EU Commission on Friday called on governments to drop coronavirus border restrictions separating couples, following five months of separation for many in cross-border relationships.

READ ALSO: 'The pandemic closed the door to our relationship': Love and coronavirus in Sweden

Proof of 'durable sentimental relationship'

The recent French announcement was met by excitement in the community, however some wondered what exactly would be required to prove a relationship was important enough to get a pass;

 

Lemoyne told the Journal du Dimanche that, to get a laissez-passer (pass), the couples “must present themselves at the consulate with documents attesting to joint activities, their identity documents, proof of residence in France for the French partner, a return transport ticket, etc.”

They must also prove that their relationship is of a “sentimental, durable character,” according to the JDD.

The JDD listed “a rental lease agreement, common invoices or a bank account, the stamps on the passports establishing regular visits” as examples of such evidence.

Virtual exchanges will not suffice, according to the JDD.

'Love is not tourism': How Germany wants to bring couples separated by pandemic together

Not enough?

In Switzerland, unmarried couples have to present “proof” of their relationship in the form of love letters, emails and holiday photos in order to be reunited again.

Contacted by The Local, Paloma said she worried her application would not be accepted based on these criteria.

“We only have pictures of us, social media publications, bank transcripts, airport stamps, tickets of frequent visits and WhatsApp conversations,” she said, adding:

“Why do we need to go through the consulates? There are people, like me, who don't have a consulate in their region, all of this will take so much time.”

Paloma lives in Fortaleza, the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará.

“I'm ready to get tested, to quarantine, to do anything it takes.. I just want to see my boyfriend, like other people do every day.”

 

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COVID-19

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.

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