French local authorities impose early bar closures and restrictions on gatherings as Covid rates rise

Early bar closures and a maximum of 10 people in public gatherings have been imposed by local authorities in one of France's worst affected areas for Covid, as many other authorities reimpose mask rules.

French local authorities impose early bar closures and restrictions on gatherings as Covid rates rise
A restaurant owner checks customers' health passes at a restaurant in Ile Rousse. Photo: Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP.

From Tuesday, July 27th, gatherings of more than 10 people will be prohibited on the beach and in other public areas after 9pm across the Haute-Corse département, which covers the northern half of the island of Corsica.

It will also be necessary to wear a mask in busy outdoor areas in the following towns: Bastia, Corte, Calvi, Ile-Rousse, Calenzana and Saint-Florent. This was already the case in the Balagne area.

Further restrictions will come into effect on August 1st, the Préfet François Ravier announced during a press conference on Monday. From that date, bars and restaurants will have to close at midnight, and events such as weddings where more than 50 people gather will have to be declared at the préfecture.

READ ALSO Bars and restaurants in French holiday resorts face possibility of early closures as Covid cases rise

“It was these types of festive family events which were responsible, at least in the beginning in Balagne, for the appearence of clusters,” Ravier said.

Corsica has been particularly hard hit by the fourth wave of Covid-19 which has begun to emerge in France. The incidence rate in Haute-Corse is currently 699 for 100,000 inhabitants – the second highest rate in France after the French Caribbean island of Martinique, and well above the alert level of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The popular tourist destination is one of a number of coastal areas which have seen a more dramatic increase in case numbers than other parts of France.

EXPLAINED: Where in France do you have to wear a face mask in the street?

“We are deeply worried knowing that during the summer, generally speaking, hospitals are already put under strain as the population is multiplied by three or four,” Ravier said.

But local authorities are not currently considering implementing a curfew, the prefect added.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said last week that it may be necessary to introduce more “braking measures” in areas that have high case numbers, but that it would be up to local authorities to take those decisions.

Bars and restaurants are already made to close at 11 pm in the south-western département of Pyrénées-Orientale. In Haute-Corse itself, the measure has been in place since July 14th for 37 communes.

A number of areas have also reintroduced mandatory outdoors mask-wearing: you can find the full list HERE.

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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.