France is in the process of rolling out antigen tests in certain areas, which provide results on the spot within 15 minutes, rather than people having to wait up to 48 hours to have the results sent to them.
The new nasal swab tests, which were partially developed in France in partnership with the World Health Organisation offer a faster alternative to the PCR tests which are used at present, and provide results on the spot as they don't need to be sent to laboratories to process.
Transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri said they will be available at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Nice airports by the end of October, with a fuller roll-out to follow.
Dès la fin du mois : tests antigéniques dans les aéroports, à Roissy et à Nice, avec résultat en 15 minutes.
Pour + de confiance chez les passagers, et + de trafic aérien.
— Jean-Baptiste Djebbari (@Djebbari_JB) October 20, 2020
The move has raised hopes that France may be able – after nine months – to reopen its borders to travellers from outside Europe, including Americans.
At present France does not impose any kind of restriction, quarantine or compulsory testing on arrivals from within the EU, the UK or the Schengen zone – although travellers from France face restrictions in many European countries.
For people wishing to enter France from outside Europe the picture is more complicated, only a limited number of countries – including Australia – are on the EU's 'safe countries' list, where people are allowed to travel into Europe for any reason.
For the other countries, which includes the USA, travel is still heavily restricted – only certain types of essential travel is allowed and those that do come need to produce a negative Covid-19 test at the airport before boarding, which can be hard to access in some parts of the USA.
People arriving from countries deemed 'high risk' face compulsory tests at the airport – with the exception of travellers from the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Panama who must obtain a negative test result before they fly.
For all other arrivals tests are available on a voluntary basis, free of charge.
France has been working with the EU to standardise travel between countries within the EU and Schengen zone. The protocol, which is still being discussed, promotes testing as the best way to keep countries safe while not excessively penalising travellers.