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TRAVEL NEWS

France toughens Covid entry rules for Ireland and other EU nations

As a fifth wave grips Europe, France has tightened entry rules for non-vaccinated visitors from a number of EU countries. Here is what you need to know.

A sign guides passengers to a Covid-19 testing center in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Non-vaccinated passengers seeking to enter France face tougher restrictions.
A sign guides passengers to a Covid-19 testing center in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Non-vaccinated passengers seeking to enter France face tougher restrictions. (Photo by Eric PIERMONT / AFP)

Non-vaccinated travellers wishing to enter France face an increasingly challenging restrictions, which came into effect on Saturday

Previously, non-vaccinated visitors travelling from within the EU had to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of their departure to France.

Fully vaccinated arrivals do not need to take a test. 

Now this testing window has been shortened to 24 hours for non-vaccinated travellers from the following EU countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia. 

The 24 hour rule was already in place for non-vaccinated arrivals from the UK, who also need to provide proof of ‘essential travel’ in order to enter France.

Testing requirements apply to all travellers aged 12 and over.

This rule does not apply in the following circumstances:

  • Lorry drivers and other long-distance drivers travelling for work
  • If you will be in France for less than 24 hours and will be going no further than 30 km from your permanent place of residence (ie people living close to the borders)
  • If you are in France on urgent professional business or on frequent business trips whereby it is impossible for you to take a test within the time window.

The rules for non-vaccinated travellers from other EU countries and the USA remain unchanged – at the border, they must present a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before departure or a negative antigen test carried out within 48 hours before departure. 

READ ALSO Passport scans and €7 fee: What will change for EU travel in 2022

Rules for non-vaccinated travellers from the UK also remain the same: they must present a negative PCR or antigen test completed less than 24 hours before departure.  

Non-vaccinated visitors seeking to enter France must also sign a sworn statement declaring that they have no symptoms of Covid-19 and have not been in contact with anyone that has.

Those coming from amber list countries, including the UK and US, must also fill out a travel certificate, while an antigen test upon arrival (for those aged 11 or over), and a 7-day isolation period following arrival in France is requested (although not enforced by police).

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the USA

Vaccinated travellers

Vaccinated travellers from the EU and the UK need to prove that they have received a full course of shots of one of the recognised vaccines. They must also sign the health declaration stating that they have no Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with Covid cases – find the declaration here

Health pass

It is worth noting that the health pass in France applies to anyone over the age of 12 years and two months.

The health pass requires either proof of full vaccination, recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test less than 72 hours old and is mandatory for access to a range of venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, leisure centres, cinemas, tourist sites and long-distance train travel. 

Unvaccinated teenagers will therefore need to either take a test every 72 hours or face exclusion from health pass venues.

Travel rules can change quickly, so for all the latest, head to our Travelling to France section.

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For members

STRIKES

What to expect from the February 7th strike in France

February 7th marks the third day of mass strike action in the ongoing battle between the French government and unions over pension reform. From planes and trains to school, ski lifts and power cuts - here's what to expect on Tuesday.

What to expect from the February 7th strike in France

The next ‘mass mobilisation’ in the ongoing battle against pension reform is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7th, and will be followed by another one on Saturday, February 11th.

5 minutes to understand French pension reform

Tuesday’s mobilisation is supported by all eight French trades union federations, which means that support is likely to be high and disruption severe on certain services.

It will come as French lawmakers debate the bill in the Assemblé Nationale.

Workers in essential services such as transport must declare their intention to strike 48 hours in advance, allowing transport operators to produce strike timetables, which are usually released 24 hours in advance.

We will update this story as new information is released.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Who is winning the battle over French pension reform?

Trains

The four main unions (CGT Cheminots, Sud Rail, CFDT Cheminots, and UNSA Ferroviaire) representing workers with France’s national rail service, SNCF, have all called for strike action on Tuesday, February 7th.

During the day of action on January 31st, 36.5 percent of railway workers went on strike, compared to 46 percent on January 19th.

In addition to Tuesday’s strike action, two of the above unions, CGT and Sud Rail, have also called on workers to strike on February 8th. However, as of February 2nd, the other two primary unions had not made any calls to take part in Wednesday’s action.

Intercity and TER trains operated by the SNCF will likely see services disrupted on Tuesday with many cancellations. International trains including the Eurostar could also be affected.

City public transport

In the Paris region, the main unions representing RATP (Paris region public transport services) issued a joint statement on February 1st saying they would join calls for mobilisation on February 7th.

Traffic was severely disrupted on the most recent day of strike action, January 31st, on certain RER lines, with some lines like the RER C running an average of 1 train out of 10. As for the Paris Metro system, several lines only ran during peak hours and many stations across the city were closed. Many buses continued running, though with delays to usual operating times.

Other cities including Marseille and Lyon will likely see a repeat of severely disrupted bus, tram and Metro services.

In Lyon, on January 31st, public transport services were strongly impacted by strike action, and one metro line did not run at all throughout the day. 

Air travel

While it is not yet clear what level of disruption to expect in air travel, the leading civil aviation union, USACcgt, has called on “all DGAC (French civil aviation authority) and ENAC (National school of civil aviation) staff to go on strike en masse and take part in demonstrations” on February 7th, according to reporting by Le Parisien.

During the two previous mobilisations, approximately 20 percent of flights operating out of Paris-Orly airport were cancelled, but other airports were not affected. 

Ports

Port and dock workers walked on January 31st. It is not yet clear if they will join actions on February 7th, but typically strikes in this sector impact commercial ports rather than ferry ports. 

Schools

Tuesday’s strike will take place during the first round of winter holidays – so students in the Zone A (Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers) will already be off school.

You can find out more information about France’s school zones here.

Nevertheless – one of the major unions representing teachers, Snuipp-FSU said in a statement that they hope to see an “amplification” of previous walkouts, as they called on teachers to walk out on February 7th.

Primary school teachers (maternelle and elementary schools) are required to inform students and families at least 48 hours in advance of their intent to strike.

On January 31st, the Ministry of Education reported that about 25.9 percent of teachers walked out, in comparison to the 38.5 percent who walked out on the 19th. Numbers offered by the Snuipp-FSU union were higher – they said that about 50 percent of elementary school teachers walked out, and that 55 percent of secondary school teachers did so as well.

In addition to industrial action by teachers, several student unions, like the “National Student Movement” (MNL), representing high school students have made an effort to mobilise French youth across the nation, with some blocking the entrance to their high schools on strike days. According to the Journal des Femmes, the MNL has called on high schoolers across the country to walk out again on the 7th.

Ski lifts

BFMTV reported on January 31st that a walkout was scheduled for seasonal workers for approximately one hour and thirty minutes on Tuesday, February 7th. This means that in some resorts, ski lifts and stores could be closed. 

READ MORE: What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

The two unions that represent more than 90 percent of workers in ski resorts have also called an ‘unlimited’ strike which began on January 31st. This means further actions could come later in the month as well.

Petrol stations

French refinery workers have threatened to strike for a 72-hour period beginning on February 6th. Union representative, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions could result in a “lower throughput” for petrol and a “stoppage of shipments.”

This could mean that there may be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

The mobilisation on January 31st saw a significant number of refinery workers walk out – between 75 to 100 percent at some refinery and oil depots, according to the union CGT.

Power cuts 

Workers in the energy sector (electricity and gas), primarily represented by the union FNME-CGT, have announced plans to strike from February 6th through 8th. 

The day of action on January 31st had 40.3 percent of employees at EDF (France’s national energy provider) walk out, in comparison to 44.5 percent on January 19th.

Some workers in this sector have taken what they call “Robin Hood” actions to “distribute free electricity” to hospitals, schools and low-income housing areas.

On January 31st, striking workers brought about significant load reductions in some power plants across the country – approximately 3,000 MW according to La Depeche. However, these reductions in power reportedly did not lead to any power cuts on the 31st.

Demos

Demonstrations are expected in cities and towns across the country.

January 31st, the most recent day of large scale mobilisation, saw over 1.27 million people take to the streets according to the interior ministry. In Paris, the number of protesters was estimated at 87,000, higher than the 80,000 clocked last time, the ministry told AFP.

In Lyon, the route for the demonstration has already been decided, according to Lyon Capitale. It will begin at 12pm in front of the Manufacture des Tabacs. The procession will move toward the Place Bellecour.

Unions are hoping for a similar turnout on February 7th.

Other strike dates

The above information relates to February 7th only. Unions have also called for more walkouts on February 11th. 

Additionally, the strike by oil refinery workers is expected to run for 72 hours, meaning it will continue into Wednesday, February 8th. There could be more action in later days by oil refinery workers, as they have called for an ‘unlimited strike’.

Other unions have also declared ‘unlimited’ strikes, so there could be disruptions on these services on other days – these include ski lift operators and truck drivers.

It is highly likely that further one-day or multi-day strikes will be announced for February and March, as the pension reform bill comes before parliament, you can keep up to date with out strike calendar HERE.

We will update this article as more information becomes available, and you can also keep up with the latest in our strike section HERE.

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