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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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STRIKES

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry. 

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