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France suspends all flights to and from Brazil over Covid variant fears

France is suspending all flights to and from Brazil to curb the spread of a new Covid-19 variant found in the South American country, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday.

France suspends all flights to and from Brazil over Covid variant fears
Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

Experts say the Brazilian variant, known as P1, is particularly virulent and partly to blame for a sharp increase in the country’s coronavirus death toll in March.

“We have observed that the situation is worsening and that is why we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice,” Castex told parliament.

The French overseas département of French Guiana shares a border with Brazil, causing concern to the government over the health situation.

France had previously imposed extra restrictions on travel between France and the UK when the ‘UK variant’ of the virus was first reported in December, but these have since been lifted and since the middle of March travel between the two countries has been allowed for any reason – although the British government still has travel restrictions in place.

France has more relaxed rules for seven non-EU countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, but for the rest of non-EU countries, travel is allowed for essential reasons only.

The limits on who can travel means that transport is limited between these countries, but this is the first time that France has imposed a complete ban on flights.

For the full rules on travel into France from within the EU – click HERE.

And the full rules on non-EU travel – click HERE.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has defied expert advice on containing the pandemic, criticising lockdowns, face masks and vaccines.

But he faces mounting pressure to bring the situation under control amid a brutal new surge of the virus.

Brazil’s Covid infection rate is the highest in the world after the United States and India.

Member comments

  1. This is good in my view and has nothing to do with anything else but safety.

    Travel should have been locked down a year ago to stop (if not slow) the spread. Travelers returning home should have been isolated by the government at military bases rather than allowed to go home and infect families and friends.

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For members

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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