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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: The rules and official advice for New Year in France

As the end of the year approaches, here are the health restrictions in place in France, as well as the official advice for celebrating New Year with loved ones.

EXPLAINED: The rules and official advice for New Year in France
Raise a glass with loved ones safely this New year. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Rules

Health pass – if you’re heading out to a bar, café or restaurant, you will need to show the health pass with either proof of vaccination, recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the past 24 hours. If you’re over the age of 65 and had your second vaccine shot more than 7 months ago, you will need to have a booster in order to keep your pass activated.

Masks – masks are compulsory on all public transport and in all indoor public spaces – including venues such as bars, cafés and museums that are covered by the health pass.

Many local authorities have brought in extra mask rules covering outdoor public spaces, so make sure you check local rules where you are. If you intend to ski, you will need a mask and a health pass to access ski lifts.

Gatherings

Public gatherings of more than 2,000 people – or more than 5,000 people outdoors – are banned. Most local authorities had already cancelled the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks and concerts, but concerts with a standing audience are also banned.

Dancing

Nightclubs are closed for at least the next three weeks, while dancing in bars and cafés is also banned.

Bars/cafés/restaurants

These remain open, but with for seated customers only, standing at the bar is not allowed.

Eating

Eating in restaurants is allowed, but consuming food or drink in a number of public venues where people gather in large groups is no longer allowed. These are: sports events and in stadiums, concert halls, cinemas and theatres and on all public transport, including long-distance trains.

Travel – travel within France is unrestricted, although you will need a health pass for long-distance train journeys. International travel is more complicated. If you’re travelling in the EU you will need only either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test result, but if you’re travelling outside the EU you need to check the traffic lights map for travel restrictions. Travel to and from the UK is banned in all but a very small number of cases – full details here.

Paris

If you’re in Paris, there are extra restrictions put in place by local authorities and police.

  • Bars, even those with a late licence, must close by 2am on January 1st and 2nd
  • The consumption of alcohol in certain public places is banned between 6pm on December 31st and January 1st, these areas include the banks of the Seine and Île-de-la-Cité
  • Face masks must be worn in all outdoor areas

Local rules

Paris is not the only place where local authorities have imposed extra rules, and many places have their own outdoor mask mandates, so check the local restrictions where you are.

Most local authorities have cancelled New Year fireworks and concerts, even those with fewer than 5,000 people which are allowed under the national rules.

Recommendations

The above are rules with penalties in place for breaking them – if you’re caught without a mask you face a €135 fine while can you be refused entry to venues without a health pass. But there are also a number of official recommendations for celebrating safely.

Limit gatherings – last year we had the ‘rule of 6’ for festive gatherings in private homes. This year there is no number, but people are advised to keep groups small and ensure that everyone is vaccinated and tested if the group includes any vulnerable people such as the elderly. 

Ventilation – if you’re having a gathering in your home you are advised to keep it well ventilated, opening a window or door for 10 minutes in every hour (the same advice as is already in place for workplaces).

Testing – if you intend to travel or meet up with friends and family over New Year, it is advised to take a test in advance, particularly if you intend to meet up with someone in a vulnerable group such as the elderly.

Jean-François Delfraissy, head of the Scientific Council, recommends either a self-test on the day of the event or an antigen test the day before. PCR tests are recommended only for people with symptoms, but antigen tests can be accessed on a walk-in basis at the pharmacy, while self-test kits are available in pharmacies for around €6.

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COVID-19

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).

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