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TRAVEL NEWS

Will travel to and from France be open this Christmas?

Many people are now making Christmas plans - but will rapidly rising Covid cases in Europe lead to more travel restrictions over the festive season?

French border at Gare du Nord
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Covid cases are surging in many countries across Europe, leading to the introduction of new restrictions in many places.

France is, for the moment, seeing a smaller resurgence than many of its neighbours, and government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said that the new wave “can be managed without extra restrictions”.

But even if France manages to contain cases through its high vaccination rate and use of the health pass, what is the likelihood of extra travel restrictions over Christmas?

READ ALSO

Within the EU/Schengen zone

Current rule – travel within the EU and Schengen zone is at present largely unrestricted for fully vaccinated travellers, with most countries requiring only proof of vaccination to enter. The EU digital travel pass means that vaccination QR codes are accepted throughout the EU so travellers from France can use the TousAntiCovid app at the border and don’t require any extra paperwork.

Unvaccinated travellers need to show a negative Covid test to enter most EU countries, but there are no further restrictions such as quarantine or proof of essential travel.

New restrictions? – Since the introduction in July of the EU digital vaccine pass, travel has been pretty seamless within the Bloc and there seems little appetite for reintroducing travel rules.

Even Germany, which is bringing in new domestic restrictions as it struggles under huge case numbers, has not proposed any restriction on travel from within the EU. 

The UK

Current rule – The UK is on France’s orange list so while fully vaccinated people can enter France showing only proof of vaccination, unvaccinated people can only travel if they meet the criteria for essential travel.

Going the other way, vaccinated people can enter the UK from France for any reason, but must still pay for a Covid test to be taken two days after arrival. Unvaccinated people can enter, but must quarantine and pay for two Covid tests. Find a full breakdown of the rules HERE.

New restrictions? – In contrast to much of Europe, the UK has shown a decline in cases in recent weeks, but that’s a decline from sky-high levels of cases over the late summer and autumn.

British PM Boris Johnson made an announcement last week saying: “I’m seeing the storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent. And I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people: we’ve been here before. We remember what happens when the wave starts rolling in.”

This doesn’t really tally with the facts, but the political rhetoric could be paving the way for new travel restrictions on arrivals from the EU. 

Covid cases remain more than twice as high in the UK as in France, but the UK’s travel rules don’t always appear to be driven by logic – it has previously imposed travel restrictions such as quarantine on countries with significantly lower Covid rates.

On the French side several politicians have mentioned the worryingly high rates of Covid in the UK, including the tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, but if rates in the UK continue to plateau or fall then extra restrictions seem unlikely.

Outside the EU 

Current rules – France operates a traffic light travel system and while the whole of the EU and Schengen zone are green, other countries are graded according to the latest Covid situation. Find the latest on the traffic light system HERE.

New restrictions? – Most recent travel restrictions have tended to focus on non-EU countries and France’s red and orange lists for travel have been updated multiple times over the summer and autumn.

Travel from both red and orange list countries is largely banned for unvaccinated people, apart from certain types of essential travel. The USA was moved from the green to the orange list in early autumn.

The traffic light travel list appears to be here to stay and offers France the flexibility to react the Covid outbreaks in individual countries. It therefore seems unlikely that we will see blanket travel bans reintroduced.

If you’re fully vaccinated you can travel even from red list countries without having to quarantine.

Whether other non-EU countries impose extra restrictions on France remains to be seen but France is, for the moment, enjoying a better situation than neighbours like Germany or Belgium, so would probably not be the first country to have extra restrictions imposed. 

Member comments

  1. Responsibilites has its rewards, I love to travel so I got vaccinated, those who wish not to, thats up to them, I cast no ill will towards them, and take my own safety in my own hands, masks do not bother me during visits to stores and such, after these last two years I am ready to explore my world again. Just hoping the world does not shut down again. covid sucks.

  2. The French health pass is going to require over 65s to have a booster six months after the second dose. Does this affect travel to France and when? How can anyone who has a booster in the UK evidence it as it does not yet appear on the NHS vacinnation certificate for travel.

  3. What happens when U.K. visitors over 65 are unable to get proof of their boosters? Especially as to visit a cafe or restaurant in France after the 15th December it will be necessary to have proof of the 3rd vaccination?

  4. Had my booster jab back in UK this weekend but was told there are no plans to link it to the NHS app. So it won’t be possible to link to the French App. Really you can’t make it up…

    1. I’ve seen a Sky News title today that the booster is now on the NHS app, but tried to see it an the app was crashed…so maybe wait a bit to see if it appears there. Also, you have it in Medicines tab of the app (but w/o a QR code)

        1. Just checked again and the Booster is there with a QR code!!! And I got my booster this past Wednesday, so that is brilliant!

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TRAVEL NEWS

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

Restrictions

France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test

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