UPDATE: Germany requires negative Covid test for travellers from France

From Sunday, travellers from France will have to show a negative Covid test and quarantine upon arrival in Germany, after the country declared France a "high risk" area.

UPDATE: Germany requires negative Covid test for travellers from France
A cyclist crosses the French border in summer 2020. Photo: DPA

France, including all French overseas departments, are now considered “at particularly high risk of infection due to a particularly high number of cases”, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic were meanwhile downgraded from the highest alert red list of “virus variants regions” to “high risk” areas.

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian confirmed on Friday that a Covid test would be required at the border. Quarantine would not be obligatory for arrivals from France but it would be advised, he added.

The new measures came into force on Sunday – from then on, French travellers will have to show a negative Covid-19 test, taken no more than 48 hours before arriving in Germany.

“The explosion of the pandemic in Germany is quicker than they thought so they are going to reinforce saliva testing at the entry points to Germany,” Le Drian added.

He added that the tightened controls would cause problems for cross-border workers.

Covid-19 incidence rates, which measure the number of infections in every 100,000 people over the previous seven days, have crossed the threshold of 200 in numerous French regions.

In Ile-de-France, the area that encompasses the capital of Paris, the number has passed 600.

“While we see such a high incidence, it is simply a necessity… a practically automatic process,” Chancellor Merkel told a press conference in Berlin on Thursday as part of an EU summit, focused on the fight against Covid-19.

“It is not related to a political decision here but when we see the evolution of the incidence rate – as is the case here – exceed the threshold of 200 for a long time, that requires a classification as a zone of high risk,” she added.

Up until now, only France’s border area of Moselle had been classified by Germany as a high-risk zone.

READ ALSO: France and Germany bring in extra testing rules at border due to Covid variant fears

The classification imposes several travel restrictions. As well as the requirement to obtain a negative test result before entering German territory, travellers need to observe 10 days’ quarantine and there are strict border controls too.

Berlin has also placed Austria’s Tyrol state and the Czech Republic in the same category. But Merkel hinted on Thursday that France could enjoy special treatment and avoid strict border controls, despite being classified as a high-risk area.

“There is a whole specific test procedure… that is in discussion with France,” she said.

The French secretary of state for European Affairs, Clement Beaune, “is negotiating the easing of terms… to avoid the border being closed”, AFP learned on Thursday from his entourage in Paris.

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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.