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Young French people ‘head to Madrid’ to avoid curfews and closures

Young people in France have been flocking to Madrid for the weekend in order to skip restrictions and weekend lockdowns that have been imposed in some areas of their own country, according to a report by Madrid's TV channel TeleMadrid.

Madrid airport
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

Although Covid-19 infection figures in Madrid remain high, the Spanish capital has relatively relaxed restrictions compared to France and the rest of Spain.

In France, there is a nightly curfew between 6pm and 6am, while in Madrid the curfew only starts at 11pm.

All bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and museums also remain closed in France, while in Madrid bars and restaurants can stay open until the 11pm curfew, accepting their last customers at 10pm.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The updated Covid-19 rules and restrictions for regions around Spain

There is a limited capacity of 50 percent inside restaurants, but there is no limit on the terraces and up to six people can sit at one table outside.

Now, young people in France have reportedly cottoned on to the big differences in restrictions between the two countries and have been heading to the capital to escape for the weekend.

“The flights were absolutely full,” said one guy being interviewed by TeleMadrid at Madrid Barajas airport on Friday.

When asked why he had come to Spain, he simply said “for the restaurants”.

Another young French woman being interviewed said that she had come “for the fiestas”, while a third claimed that flights are “very cheap right now. You can find return flights from France to Madrid for around 70 to 150 euros.” 

Rules in other parts of Spain are not so relaxed, though.

In Catalonia, bars and restaurants have only been allowed to open for breakfast and again for lunch, and from Monday, March 8th, will be able to open until 5pm only. A curfew of 10pm has also been imposed in the coastal city.

Madrid currently has Spain’s third-highest coronavirus incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants at 242, just behind Melilla and Ceuta.

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  7. How will they come back though? You need to prove that you didn’t travel out of France before the 31st of January to be able to return.

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COVID-19

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).

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