Following discussions among European leaders about extra travel restrictions, the French government announced on Thursday night that anyone entering the country will need a negative Covid test.
Anyone entering France from outside the EU already needs to abide by strict regulations that ban all non-essential travel and require both a Covid test and a seven-day quarantine once in France.
Until now, however, arrivals from within the EU or Schengen zone were not subject to any restrictions.
But France's Europe Minister Clément Beaune announced on Thursday night that this would change from midnight (00:00) on Sunday.
?? Un test PCR négatif sera exigé avant l'arrivée en France pour les voyageurs européens dès dimanche à minuit.
?? Les travailleurs frontaliers et le transport routier seront exemptés.
— Clement Beaune (@CBeaune) January 21, 2021
However on Friday morning the government clarified that this would apply only to arrivals by air and sea – people arriving by road or rail would not need a test. Policing the test requirements at land borders was judged to be impractical.
From Sunday, anyone entering France by air or sea will need a negative Covid test performed in the previous 72 hours. The government specified that this must be a PCR test, the rapid-result antigen tests on offer at many pharmacies will not be accepted.
Cross-border workers and hauliers are also exempt from the requirement.
Unlike arrivals from outside the EU, European travellers will not have to quarantine once in France.
The announcement came after a video conference between representatives of the 27 EU countries discussing reinforcing borders in the light of new and more contagious variants of the Covid virus.
Ahead of the meeting, German chancellor Angela Merkel had proposed a complete ban on all passenger travel between EU countries, including of EU citizens and permanent residents in EU countries.
Speaking after the conference, European Commission president Ursuala von der Leyen sounded the alarm on the “very serious health situation” caused throughout Europe by the pandemic.