France introduces strict new travel restrictions on arrivals from the UK

From Monday, France has brought in strict new travel rules for the UK including a ban on all non-essential travel and a compulsory seven-day quarantine.

France introduces strict new travel restrictions on arrivals from the UK
Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

The tightening of travel restrictions is in reaction to fears over the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid which has seen a big growth in cases in the UK in recent days, and follows in the footsteps of Germany and Austria, which have also restricted travel from the UK.

At present the rules apply to all arrivals, including those who are fully vaccinated.

The new rules, which came into force at 0.01am on Monday, May 31st, are;

  • Travel is only allowed from the UK for vital reasons or motif imperieux, similar to the restrictions in place between December and March. Travel to second homes or to visit family and friends is not accepted as a vital reason. You will also need to fill in a form stating your reason, find it HERE
  • People who are resident in France – including British residents – do not need to prove a vital reason to return to France, nor will French citizens or citizens of another EU country who live in France or the EU
  • Anyone over the age of 11 entering France from the UK needs to show a negative PCR or antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours (not 72 hours as was previously the rule)
  • Arrivals should self-isolate for seven days, although this will not be enforced by police visits

You can read a full breakdown of the rules on travel between France and the UK here

Speaking on France Info on Monday morning, France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune said that the quarantine for UK arrivals will not be enforced by the police, in the way that it is for arrivals from India, but that France “will go further if necessary”.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: “Compelling reasons will be required for non-EU foreign nationals not resident in France joining France from the UK.

“A PCR or antigen test less than 48 hours old will be required from anyone travelling to France from the UK;

“On arrival, travellers will be required to observe a 7-day isolation period. For the time being, given the low incidence of Covid in the UK, police checks on quarantine addresses will not be applied to them.”

People who live in France or another EU country can return home, but family visits, visits from second-home owners and holidays are not allowed.

You can find the full list of essential reasons HERE.

The testing and quarantine rules will apply to all arrivals into France from the UK, including French and EU citizens and people who have their permanent residence in France. 

READER QUESTION: Can I transit through France despite the new travel restrictions?

France already has in place strict rules on travel from India, which bans almost all transport and enforces a strict 10-day quarantine, enforced by visits from the police. This quarantine regime will not be enforced on arrivals from the UK. 

However the French government had become increasingly concerned about arrivals from the UK, which has seen a rapidly rising number of cases, particularly in hotspots in the north of England.

Member comments

  1. This is insane. The UK is averaging 2,000-3,000 cases per day, while France is still averaging 9,000. The UK has vaccinated HALF of its adult population FULLY, and around 75 percent have received the first dose. In France, around 17 percent are fully vaccinated, with 37 percent having received a first dose. Yet France is restricting visitors from the UK? The variants are already in France, anyway. This move seems political, not related to public health.

  2. Would it be possible to do a story on travel within Schengen? I need to be in Venice soon for business, and cannot fathom what documents I need. I am fully vaccinated, but my French or Italian is not good enough to deal with the small print.

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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).