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Reader question: Can I travel to a different part of France for the Easter weekend?

Reader question: Can I travel to a different part of France for the Easter weekend?
Parisians were quick to leave the capital before the partial lockdown entered into effect back in mid March. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron said travel rules would be relaxed this weekend, so does that mean visiting friends or family in a different part of France is allowed?

Question: We live in a rural area that is getting lockdown measures on Saturday, but we heard that the government is saying travel between regions will be allowed this weekend. Can we travel to visit friends for Easter like we planned? 

Since Macron announced earlier this week that the partial lockdown would be extended to the whole country, there has been some confusion regarding what will be allowed this weekend when the new measures take effect.

One of the rules of the new lockdown is that all travel between départements is banned.

So that’s a no?

If the travel purpose is purely leisure the it’s a no and the government wants you to cancel the trip. While the president did say travel rules would be relaxed this Easter weekend, this was only for those wanting to change their place of residence for the lockdown period.

“Either you leave for four weeks, or you don’t go,” Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said on Thursday, as he specified the new rules to French TV channel BFM.

Currently set to last four weeks, the lockdown may be extended if the health situation so requires. The government wants to give people a window to change the area they spend the isolation period. Police will therefore not fine anyone who is driving off to their second home or their family to spend the lockdown period there. 

And it seems hundreds of thousands across France will be on the move. SNCF was expecting 600,000 passengers this weekend on its TGV trains whilst heavy traffic was expected on the roads on Saturday and Sunday.

What about dropping children off at grandparents? 

On Friday the Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari suggested there would be tolerance for those making trips for childcare purposes throughout the next few weeks and not just over the Easter weekend.

Whether it’s grandparents travelling to pick up kids and then taking them home or parents dropping kids off at grand parents and then picking them up, these are “legitimate journeys” according to Djebbari. Although he added that he wouldn’t encourage repeat journeys of this nature during the limited lockdown period.

So we can just say we’re going away for the full lockdown?

Obviously it’s difficult for police to know who is taking a holiday weekend and who is leaving for the entire lockdown period. But the government has said it is counting on people to behave responsibly and asked that those with holidays booked cancel their plans.

“Businesses have set up cancellation policies,” Lemoyne said, “to avoid that people are penalised twice.”

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

What is allowed, however, is to move around freely within 10 kilometres of the home. All journeys longer than that require an attestation permission slip.

Full details on the lockdown rules and where you can find that form HERE.

Can we have friends over?

You’re not supposed to, although it is not actually illegal. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has asked that people avoid indoor gatherings or inviting family over for Easter, and the government has asked that people keep socialising outside.

READ ALSO: How to have a traditional French Easter in compliance with health restrictions

I’m vaccinated, does that change anything?

No, at least not yet.

The vaccine “does not completely eliminate the possibility that those vaccinated become carriers of the virus,” the France’s State Council said in an opinion on Friday, which recommended that travel restrictions should remain in place even fro those who have gotten injected.

READ ALSO: What is France’s State Council?

This is also the government’s line, which has also previously stressed that, seeing as only a small group of the country currently has access to the vaccine, it would be unfair to differentiate between vaccinated people and the rest.


Member comments

  1. Radius. The IGN web site (www.geoportail.gouv.fr) has a tool to show a 10km circle around your home.

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