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HEALTH

What international travel services still run in France?

France has entered its second lockdown of 2020 and will remain there until at least December 1st, but the borders remain open, although travel is heavily restricted. Here's a look at what services are running if you do need to travel.

What international travel services still run in France?
Sailings between Calais and Dover continue as scheduled for the moment. Photo: AFP

While travel from outside the EU will remain limited for the time being (more details on that here), travel within Europe (including the UK) may continue, albeit at a much-reduced level due to the lockdown in France.

When the country entered its second confinement, the government banned all non-essential travel, bar a few exceptions such as travelling for work or to help a sick or vulnerable person.

Currently the lockdown is set to end on December 1st, but that date will depend on how the health situation develops until then. 

Just a few days into the new lockdown, the country's SNCF rail company saw its number passengers plunge, leading it to slash its number of trains to a fraction of normal services. As was the case during lockdown this spring, international travel companies could do the same.

Here’s a look at the services running.

Flights

New rules have made it forbidden to enter an airport without a valid ticket. Only travellers going to take their flight may access the airport, except if they are accompanying a child or a vulnerable person.

Several airlines have reduced their services, including Air France, which said on their website that “last minute cancellations cannot be excluded.” Check your airline's website for last minute changes before leaving. Most lines offer flexibility for bookings due to the exceptional health situation.

Face masks are compulsory inside all of France's airports and throughout the flight.

Paris Airports

Paris' northern Charles de Gaulle has closed several terminals, which means your flight might be leaving or entering a different terminal than usual. Click here for details.

All passengers coming into Paris will be subject to general temperature screens on arrival. Those showing a temperature over 38C will be asked to do an individual temperature check and subsequent a Covid-19 test if they present a fever.

Channel Tunnel

The tunnel was open throughout the lockdown this spring, albeit with somewhat reduced services and terminal buildings closed. When this article was published, the company’s website stated that shuttles were running “regularly” and that terminals were open. 

An update on November 4th said: “Following the French and UK governments announcements, we keep on running our services as scheduled, as we did throughout the height of the pandemic, to transport those whose travel is essential and those customers who might be travelling to other European destinations.”

Eurostar

Eurostar will be running on skeleton services in the coming weeks, ensuring only 15 percent of its normal train lines.

In the event of a cancellation, travellers will be informed approximately seven days before departure, according to the company.

For up-to-date information go to the Eurostar's travel information website (here).

Business Premier travellers may exchange or cancel their tickets free of charge, while those travelling on a Standard ticket can exchange (not cancel) their journey for for free 14 days before departure. Later exchanges will be met with a fee (€40 for Standard tickets, €50 for Standard Premier).

Everyone travelling with the Eurostar must wear a protective face mask throughout the journey. Onboard catering services remain closed.

Thalys

Thalys reduced its services between France and Belgium and the Netherlands to 30 percent of the normal this week, with train schedules in the coming days also affected. For realtime updates on all lines, click here.

All travellers must wear a face mask on board or risk a €95 fine unless they present a medical prescription to a Train Manager before boarding.

Lyria

Trains between Switzerland and France will continue to run, although the company asked travellers to keep an eye on their website for schedule updates (link here).

Face masks are mandatory onboard trains and in stations in both Switzerland and France. Travellers from a number of French regions, including the greater Paris region, must comply with a 10-day quarantine upon their arrival on the Swiss side.

Renfe

Renfe-SNCF trains between Spain and France continue to operate as usual for the moment, with face masks obligatory onboard and travel documents needed in France (details below).

Ferries

Brittany Ferries was running freight services only during the spring lockdown and will be running on reduced passenger services moving forward.

Tickets will be exchangeable free of charge, until October 2021, according to the company's website. For their updated timetables click here.

P&O ferries had on November 4th not announced amendments to their passenger services and currently run 23 crossings between Dover in the UK and Calais in France per day.

Passengers may amend their ticket free of charge, although not cancel them.

DFDS had not reduced services either by the time this article was published. For updated travel information on sailings between the UK and France, click here. Face masks are compulsory on board.

Driving

You may still drive into France from another EU country, however anyone entering French territory must comply with the rules stated below.

Travel rules

If you are travelling into France you will need to fill in a travel exemption form, which under this lockdown is the regular attestation (permission slip) that everyone in France must bring on outings. 

Attestations: The three permission forms you need in France to leave your home

You need to be travelling for one of these essential reasons, or to return to your home (whether that is in France or  another country) – if you are returning home, tick the 'vital family reasons' box on the form.  If you don't have the form or are travelling for a non-essential reason you could face a €135 fine.

Travelling to a second home does not count as an essential reason for travel.

New lockdown in France: Your questions answered about international travel

If you are travelling from France to the UK you will need to fill in a passenger locator form before you travel. All travellers from France must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in the UK.

If you are travelling to another European country, check their national rules before your journey to see if they too have restricted travel.

 

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HEALTH

What are the new Covid rules as France scraps its State of Emergency?

France has ended its Covid-19 state of emergency after more than two years - so what does this mean for daily life in France and travel rules?

What are the new Covid rules as France scraps its State of Emergency?

As of August 1st, France has ended its Covid-related state of emergency, which was put into place at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 and was extended several times. Instead the parliament has adopted a bill giving alternative measures in case of a resurgence in the pandemic.

Here is what has changed;

Lockdowns and curfews – The new legislation has taken away the possibility of further lockdowns and curfews without a parliamentary vote.

Although such measures have not been in effect for several months, it was previously possible for the government to implement lockdown measures or a curfew, without needing the agreement of Parliament. 

The vaccine pass – This too has not been in effect for several months, but similar to lockdowns and curfews, the government would need to go through Parliament if it wished to re-instate the vaccine pass.

The health pass – the health pass (giving people the option of showing either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test) has been required to enter health centres or nursing homes, but this came to an end on August 1st, so there is now no venue in France that requires either a health or vaccine pass.

The scientific council – As of Sunday, July 31st, the scientific council on Covid-19 and the vaccine strategy steering committees have been scrapped and replaced by a new committee to monitor and anticipate health risks. These two bodies, which the government relied on during the Covid-19 pandemic, were dissolved when the State of emergency came into effect.

The new committee will be made up of sixteen scientific or health professionals – yet to be appointed – who will issue opinions on strategies for all types of health risks including infectious diseases of humans and animals, environmental and food pollutants and climate change.

Mask rules – Since May face coverings have face coverings have been ‘recommended‘ rather than ‘required’ on public transport and only remained compulsory in hospitals and other health centres.

Since the end of the state of emergency the government can no longer require masks to be compulsory in health settings, but individual hospital directors, doctors or pharmacies can require masks to be worn.

AP-HP, the public hospitals of Paris, have decided to maintain the requirement to wear a mask in their establishments.

Individual businesses can set dress code standards and require masking on their premises, but general masking in public spaces is no longer required.

However, obligatory masking “could be made compulsory again in the form of ministerial or prefectural decrees, depending on the evolution or degradation of the health situation; if a new problematic variant of the virus is identified,” according to RFI

TravelThe end of the State of emergency means the end of all Covid-related restrictions at the border.

Since August 1st travellers to France – whichever country they are travelling from – no longer need to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test, an attestation that they are free of Covid symptoms or any justification for their journey. Basically, travel goes back to how it was before the pandemic.

However, the government has retained the right to reinstate compulsory Covid-19 testing at the border if the health situation changes, for example the emergence of a concerning new variant.

This can be done if the Health Minister has reported its necessity and “after the opinion of the competent scientific authority” and does not require a debate in parliament to impose.

The government will maintain the ability to bring in extra testing for those entering or leaving France until March 31, 2023. 

Covid-19 testing – Covid-19 tests will remain free for residents of France who are registered in the French health system and have completed their vaccine scheme. Visitors to France, those not registered in the French system or the unvaccinated will have to pay for a test – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test. Tests remain widely available at pharmacies, medical laboratories and health centres.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid you are still obliged to self-isolate. The length of your isolation period depends on your vaccine status and when you test negative for the virus – full details here.

Arrêt maladie – if you test positive for Covid and need time off work you can obtain an ‘arrêt maladie‘ via the online Ameli platform, the MSA, or your healthcare provider. In some situations, this may also apply to you if you are the parent of a child under 16 years of age or of a person with a disability who must isolate due to Covid-19.

Vaccines – Vaccination against Covid-19 remains free and open to all adults without prior condition.

For a fourth dose (or second booster), those eligible include: adults over the age of 60, residents of nursing homes and longterm care units, immunocompromised persons, adults aged 18 to 60 years who are identified as being at risk for severe Covid-19, pregnant women, starting in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, and finally people living with or in regular contact with vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals. 

For those aged 80 and over, a telephone number remains available to help arrange for their vaccination at home or at a health professional’s office.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

Tracing tools – Several of these resources will remain in place until next year. First, ‘Contact Covid,’ which monitors and supports infected people, as well as those they have come into contact with, will be extended until January 31, 2023. The national screening information system (Sidep), which centralises all test results, has been also extended, in this case until June 30, 2023.

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