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SKIING

Covid health pass: Why UK families need to know rules in French ski resorts

Changes to France's Covid rules mean that family skiing holidays could now become very difficult for those travelling from the UK with older children.

Child mounts a ski lift. New Covid rules in France make it complicated to visit the country for a skiing holiday with young children.
New Covid rules in France make it complicated to visit the country for a skiing holiday with young children. (Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP)

France on Thursday announced a raft of changes to its health rules as it battles with a fifth wave of Covid.

You can read the full list of changes HERE but there are two changes that particularly concern family skiing holidays – the health pass is now compulsory in order to use ski lifts, and those who are not fully vaccinated need to take a Covid test every 24 hours in order to use the health pass.

The health pass is required for everyone over the age of 12, and this is a particular problem for UK families, since most UK teenagers have so far only been offered a single dose of the Covid vaccine – not enough for them to count as ‘fully vaccinated’ under French rules.

Children aged between 12 and 18 therefore have the choice of taking a Covid test every 24 hours – at a cost of up to €22 a time for antigen tests – or avoiding using ski lifts while on holiday.

READ ALSO Covid rules in France’s ski resorts this winter

In France, children over the age of 12 are required to have had two shots of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, or a single shot of Johnson & Johnson, to be considered fully vaccinated, the same as the rule for adults.

This is less a problem for French over 12s, of whom 73 percent have received both doses and 80 percent a first dose, while the majority of EU countries are also offering two doses. But in the UK the majority of teenagers are only offered a single dose. 

This means that the only other option for children is to present a negative Covid test. But new rules in France mean that a negative result remains valid for only 24 hours – in other words, children without two doses of Covid vaccine who want to ski must get tested every day of the holiday.

Not only is this an uncomfortable procedure but it is also costly. Visitors to France are typically charged visitors are charged up to €22 for an antigen tests or €44 for a PCR test. Either test type works with the health pass.

READ ALSO France sets 7 month limit on Covid health pass and opens up booster jabs to all

It is not just on the slopes that the health pass in being used in French ski resorts. Bars, restaurants, cafés, play centres and even some hotels also require visitors to be fully vaccinated. 

It is also not worth trying to cheat the system. Not only is it illegal, but it also puts others at danger and could land you a hefty fine. Using someone else’s valid health pass can land you with a maximum penalty of €750 for first offence, while using a fake health pass can result in a maximum fine of €75,000 and five years in prison. 

With Covid cases in France rising at “lighting speed”, the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, explained that enforcing the use of the health pass in French ski resorts was an important public health measure. 

“It guarantees the safety of skiers,” he told Le Parisien

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Europe's airports chief told passengers to leave time for delays this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

'Arrive early': Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

“The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems,” Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: “The system still works”.

READ ALSO: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

“It’s important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage,” he said.

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe – including this weekend – are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

“Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July,” he said.

“I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

“But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned.”

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face “the same difficulties and inflationary pressures” as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

“Staff and energy is 45 percent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials,” he said.

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