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COVID-19 RULES

Bars to close at 11pm in southern French département after rise in Delta cases

Two French départements, the Pyrénées Orientales and Bas-Rhin reimposed compulsory mask-wearing outdoors after a worrying rise in cases of the Delta variant. In the Pyrénnées Orientales bars and restaurants will also have to close at 11pm.

Bars to close at 11pm in southern French département after rise in Delta cases
Authorities in the Pyrénées-Orientales département announced on Friday that compulsory mask-wearing would be reimposed in all public spaces except beaches. Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

Authorities in the Pyrénées-Orientales département announced on Friday that compulsory mask-wearing would be reimposed in all public spaces except beaches – a measure that is currently in place in towns across the country that are experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases.

From Saturday, residents over the age of 11 in the northern Bas-Rhin département will also be required to wear masks in public outdoor places such as markets, public transport and crowded areas.

The incidence rate has more than doubled in just a week, authorities said, rising from 34,7 to almost 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

EXPLAINED: Which towns in France have imposed rules on face masks in the street?

However, on Saturday local authorities in the Pyrénées-Orientales announced further restrictions. Bars, restaurants and beach establishments will have to close at 11pm, in a further attempt to curb the rise in cases of the Delta variant.

The measures will come into effect on Sunday 18th July and will stay in place until August 2nd.

The number of Covid cases has risen sharply in the past few days in the southern département, which is on the border with Spain.

It now has the highest incidence rate in the country, at 257 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to just 12,7 on July 2nd.

Covid-19 incidence rate in France by département. Source: CovidTracker

In the past week, almost 1% of 20 year-olds tested positive for Covid in the Pyrénées-Orientales.

The Delta variant, which was first discovered in India has rapidly become dominant in most parts of France. It is reported to be responsible for around 70 percent of cases.

France has tightened restrictions for people coming from Spain, and from Saturday requires a negative 24-hour Covid test for non-vaccinated travellers crossing the border.

READ ALSO: France to require 24-hour test for UK and some EU countries over delta variant fears

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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