Easter holidays in France: What are the rules and the French government’s advice?

With Easter here many people might had been hoping or planning for a trip away or a family lunch, so here is what's possible under the latest Covid-19 restrictions in France.

Easter holidays in France: What are the rules and the French government's advice?
The Easter bunny is all masked up, but what are the rules for travellers? Photo: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP

As Covid-19 rates continue to rise in France along with pressure on hospitals, French President Emmanuel Macron has extended the partial lockdown to the entire country.

The new rules enter into effect nationally on Saturday, April 3rd, the day before Easter.

However the current lockdown rules – in full HERE– are less strict than those imposed during the previous two confinements in 2020.

Here’s a look at what you can and can’t do this weekend.

Travel in France

One of the lockdown rules bans all inter-regional travel, however Macron said it would be relaxed over Easter weekend.

This does not mean the president is allowing cross-regional travel to spend the Easter weekend with family or friends.

Rather, Easter weekend will be a window where people may change their place of residence, in which they intend to spend the period that these new restrictions remain in place (currently set at four weeks, although it could be extended).

Having people over

While the rules regulating socialising are more relaxed than under previous lockdowns, the government has urged people to behave responsibly and to keep any meet-ups with family and friends outdoors.

You can read the full list of rules here, but in general meeting up outside is OK as long as you are masked up and keep your distance. Picnics or BBQs are discouraged (because you need to remove your mask to eat or drink) and meeting up in the home is strongly discouraged but not actually illegal.

There will be no change to the rules over the Easter weekend, with Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin asking that people avoid indoor gatherings or inviting family over for Easter.

The government has also banned alcohol consumption outside in public spaces, and said police would be quick to disperse groups of more than six people.

But at least it won’t be as bad as last year when sitting indoors alone with a chocolate egg was practically the only allowed Easter celebration.

The restrictions will be in place nationwide for four weeks, so if they succeed in reducing the infection rate and ease pressure on hospitals they could end on May 2nd. However during previous lockdowns, restrictions have often been extended beyond the initial end dates.

If you are travelling, particularly if you intend to meet anyone in a high-risk group such as the elderly, the advice is to self-isolate for eight days before travel if possible and get a Covid test.

International travel

If you are planning a trip from within the EU, that is allowed although you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, plus some extra paperwork – full details HERE.

If you are outside the EU it is a little more complicated. France has a ban on non-essential travel from most non-EU countries but there are seven exempt countries and travel is allowed from them for any reason. The seven are; Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore.

However travellers should also check the rules in their own country, for example Australia still bans most types of travel while the UK’s lockdown rules prevent travel (including international travel) for tourism purposes until at least May 17th.

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

If you fit into one of the allowed categories for travel you will need negative Covid tests and a travel declaration and may have to quarantine on your return home. Full details HERE.

Once in France, bear in mind that plenty of restrictions remain, including the 7pm to 6am curfew across the whole country and lockdown in certain areas.

Non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, cafés, gyms, pools, theatres, cinemas, museums and most tourist attractions remain closed.

Masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces and around 400 local authorities, including all France’s larger towns and cities, have also made them compulsory in streets and parks. 

Everyone is asked to practice les gestes barrières, keeping 2m distance from others, avoiding handshakes and kisses, washing and disinfecting hands regularly and sneezing/coughing into elbows.

Member comments

  1. It’s very simple:

    Lockdown areas – stay home.
    Non-lockdown areas – stay home, because by Easter there will be no non-lockdown areas left.

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.