Masks now obligatory in all markets in France

As France tightens its Covid rules in the face of a fifth wave of cases, masks must now be worn in all markets, indoor or outdoor.

The lights are on at Strasbourg Christmas market. All markets in France now require mask wearing.
The lights are on at Strasbourg Christmas market. All markets in France now require mask wearing. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

France is experiencing a rapid growth in case numbers as the  fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hits. 

In response to this, the Economy Ministry has updated the health protocol to be followed in markets. 

Visitors to indoor and outdoor markets – including Christmas markets – must now wear a mask if they are over 11 years old. Mask wearing is strongly recommended (but not compulsory) for children over six.

As is standard with existing mask rules, these masks must have a filtration level of 90 percent or be of surgical quality. They must cover the nose, mouth and chin. 

READ ALSO Where to wear a face mask in France

The new protocol reiterated rules issued last last stating that visitors to all Christmas markets must carry a health pass. This does not apply to regular markets, both inside and outside. 

It also states that market organisers must place hand gel at the entries of every market. Everyone over the age of 11 is obliged to wash their hands – a measure that is also recommended for anyone over the age of six. 

The Ministry also recommend that markets organise themselves to ensure that foot traffic follows a singular route so as to avoid people crossing each other. They also recommend that an order service be established for market traders so that they can prepare goods for sale in advance to avoid shoppers milling around. 

Earlier this week, the préfecture of Strasbourg raised the alarm over Covid rules not being respected at the eastern city’s Christmas market, warning that market stalls could be closed if the situation doesn’t improve. 

READ ALSO 11 Christmas markets to visit in France this winter

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.