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LATEST: France’s new Covid test rules for all non-EU arrivals

France has announced strict new rules for all travellers - vaccinated or not - arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 known as Omicron.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new travel restrictions
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new travel restrictions. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01am on Saturday, December 4th and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

Non EU

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

For testing rules around the UK’s Lateral Flow Tests, click here. 

All non-EU arrivals must also give a declaration on their honour that they accept that furthering testing can be performed on arrival in France, although it is not clear how systematic this will be.

Bear in mind that many non-EU countries – including the UK and USA – are on France’s orange list, which means that unvaccinated people can only travel for essential reasons.

You can find the full breakdown on travel rules between France and the UK HERE and France and the USA HERE.

EU/Schengen

Arrivals from an EU county or Switzerland, Andorra, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaca, Norway or San Marino only need to take a test if they are not vaccinated. Unvaccinated arrivals will need a negative test, taken within the previous 24 hours.

Scarlet list

Attal also announced that from Saturday, flights would resume from the seven African countries currently the subject of a flight ban – but with extremely strict new conditions.

A new category has been created in the government’s traffic light system – scarlet – which will cover the seven countries currently covered by the flight ban – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – plus Malawi, Zambia and Maritius.

Travellers from these countries will only be allowed to enter France if they have French or EU citizenship or permanent residency, or are diplomats or flight crew. All travel for work, tourism, family visits, study or research from these countries is suspended.

Arrivals from those countries will be obliged to take a pre-departure test and be tested on arrival. Those who test negative will still have to quarantine for seven days on arrival. This quarantine can be done at home, but will be enforced with visits from the police. Those who test positive must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

Fines of between €1,000 and €1,500 will be levied for non-compliance with quarantine.

The new restrictions come in the face of the new variant of Covid, known as Omicrom, first sequenced in South Africa.

France has confirmed cases of the variant in its overseas territories of La Réunion and Mayotte, but there are also 13 suspected cases within France. 

“Let’s not be fooled or naive, there will very probably be cases in mainland France in the coming hours or days,” he said.

Member comments

  1. Does this mean as a French resident shortly to return from a business trip to UK I now need to take a test prior to returning?

  2. Does anyone know if it can be an at home test? If so, how would you prove the result? I don’t trust getting the result back in 48hrs for the tests you send back… So guess the test needs to be done in a testing centre…?

  3. Can you help? I’m living in France and hoping to spend two days in the UK at Christmas (originally this was to avoid having to do and wait for the results of the PCR test on the 2nd day in England). I now need to do a test on Christmas Day or Boxing Day to be able to come back to France. Everywhere seems to be closed for the bank holiday. Do you know of a way I could do a test which is recognised by the French authorities that can be done on line? ….or anywhere I could get a test done in the Portsmouth or Newhaven area on Christmas day or Boxing day? Any help would be so much appreciated.

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TOURISM

‘A European exception’: How tourists are flocking back to France after Covid

France is looking forward to a strong summer for tourism as homegrown holidaymaker numbers are boosted by the return of international travellers after two years of Covid-19.

'A European exception': How tourists are flocking back to France after Covid

In February, revenue from international tourism in France “came close to those of 2019”, according to tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

At €2.7 billion, revenues for the month were up €1.5 billion compared to last year – still down eight percent compared to 2019, before the pandemic, when France’s tourism sector represented 7.4 percent of GDP and 9.5 percent of jobs.

According to Lemoyne, France is “very well positioned” as the “number one destination for travel in Europe for Americans, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards”.

The French, for their part, are “a European exception”, the minister said, pointing out that 60 percent plan to remain in their own country over the holidays.

“With a domestic base that will remain very strong and the return of international customers, this means that we are in for a summer season that can be very, very dynamic,” he said.

But Didier Arino, director of the Protourisme consultancy, warned there could be trouble ahead.

“It is not the market that is going to be problematic, it is the cost of production of tourist stays, competitiveness, the suitability between the prices of products and purchasing power,” he said.

“The players are all increasing their prices, and right now it is going well because people want to enjoy themselves. But we are reaching the limit of what is acceptable for many customers.”

Globally, international tourist arrivals worldwide have more than doubled, up 130 percent in January 2022 on the same period last year, according to the latest UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) figures. 

In Europe, tourists are heading to France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Iceland, but still not in the same numbers as before Covid.

Worldwide, there have been 18 million additional visitors, the UNWTO said, “equivalent to the total increase recorded over the whole of 2021”.

In 2019, global tourism revenues reached $1.48 trillion. That figure dropped by almost two thirds due to the pandemic the following year.

But UNWTO also highlighted how the Omicron Covid variant put the brakes on the rise, with international arrivals in January 2022 still 67 percent lower than before the pandemic.

Larry Cuculic, general manager of the Best Western hotel company, is optimistic. “I travelled earlier this week and I can tell you that the airports, the international terminals in the US are very crowded and there is a demand or an interest in travelling to Europe, because for several years we couldn’t do that,” he told AFP. “We miss going to Paris, Rome and Berlin.”

Travel by Chinese tourists, the world’s biggest spenders before the pandemic, is also severely affected by China’s zero-Covid policy. But travel analyst ForwardKeys has indicated that the second quarter of 2022 still looks “more promising for international travel in the world than the first quarter”.

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