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Reader question: Can I travel to my second home in France from the UK?

The French government has relaxed its travel rules in relation to the UK, but that doesn't mean that all types of travel are allowed immediately.

Reader question: Can I travel to my second home in France from the UK?
Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/AFP

Question: I read that the French government has lifted its travel ban for the UK, does that mean I can come to France straight away? We have a property there that we haven’t been able to visit in many months.

The short answer to this question is – the French government says yes but the UK government says no.

Since March 12th, France has lifted its requirement for travellers coming from the UK – and 6 other non-EU countries – to have a ‘compelling reason’ for their trip.

Travel to France from the UK is now allowed for any reason, including tourism and family visits, although travellers are still required to have a negative Covid test and travel paperwork to enter the country – find the full requirements HERE.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know on the rules on travel between France and the UK

However, the UK is still on lockdown and all types of travel, including international travel, are strictly limited.

There is one reason on the UK’s exemption list related to property – to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.

So it seems that if you are selling or renting out your second home in France you could travel, but just visiting it is not allowed. Find the full list of UK rules HERE.

The UK restrictions are provisionally set to end on May 17th, conditional on the health situation.

If you are able to travel, there is also the question of quarantine to consider.

The French rules merely ask people to quarantine at a location of their choosing for 7 days, and there is no enforcement of this, but the UK rules are stricter – requiring a compulsory 10-day quarantine for anyone entering the country, plus the compulsory purchase of a £200 testing package. Find more on the UK quarantine rules HERE.

There are at present no exemptions to either country’s rules for people who have been vaccinated, although that may change in the months to come.

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COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

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