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HEALTH

France announces Covid test requirement for arrivals by air or sea from EU

From Sunday travellers arriving in France from from within the EU will need a negative Covid test, the government has announced - although it later added that this applies only to arrivals by air or sea.

France announces Covid test requirement for arrivals by air or sea from EU
Tests will be needed for all arrivals from within EU. Photo: AFP

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.

READ ALSO UK travel ban – who can travel and what documents do they need?

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.

 

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.

She said that “all non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged”, although added that it was “of the utmost importance to keep the single market functioning” and continue to allow the “smooth movement of essential workers and goods across the borders” of EU countries.

 

Member comments

  1. “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.” – this is not what your linked article says!

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COVID-19

New Covid wave in autumn ‘virtually certain’ say French experts

The head of the government's new health advisory body says that a surge of Covid cases when the French head back to work after the summer break is virtually certain.

New Covid wave in autumn 'virtually certain' say French experts

Immunologist Brigitte Autran, president of new government health advisory body the Comité de veille et d’anticipation des risques sanitaires (Committee to monitor and anticipate health risks) which has replaced the Conseil scientifique, told Le Parisien that “the Covid epidemic is not behind us” and said that the French would have to get used to “living with” the virus.

The Covidtracker website currently shows that the virus is in decline across France, with the R-rate currently at 0.7 – any figure lower than one indicates that the number of infections is falling.

Autran, whose appointment as head of the new body was confirmed on Wednesday, said that the most likely scenario was for a “new epidemic peak in the autumn”, when people return to work after the summer holidays.

“Will it be due to a new variant or the return of cold weather?” she said. “We are not soothsayers, but it is almost certain that there will be a wave.”

“Today, we must go towards living with it,” she added, reintroducing the French to an expression previously used by President Emmanuel Macron and several ministers.

“This does not mean accepting the deaths or the severity of the disease,” she went on, pointing to the fact that health authorities in France still have “levers to activate” to fight the virus. 

Despite the fact that nearly 80 percent (79.6 percent) of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against the virus, she said that, “unfortunately there are still too many people who have not been vaccinated or revaccinated.”

And she said the new body would work with the government to improve the public’s access to drugs, such as Paxlovid, and vaccines.

Vaccination is still open to anyone who has not yet had their shots, while a second booster shot is on offer to certain groups including over 60s, pregnant women, those with health conditions or people who are in close contact with vulnerable people.

EXPLAINED Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster shot in France?

The French government in August voted to end to State of Emergency that allowed it to impose measures like travel bans and lockdowns, although further restrictions could be put in place if cases rise again and parliament agrees. 

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