France places the United States on the Covid ‘red list’

France has placed the United States on the Covid red list for travel, imposing a ten day quarantine on some travellers from across the Atlantic. Here's what you need to know.

France has placed the United States on its Covid red list for travel, which imposes extra restrictions for unvaccinated travellers.
France has placed the United States on its Covid red list for travel, which imposes extra restrictions for unvaccinated travellers. (Photo by JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Unvaccinated travellers coming to France from the United States face added restrictions after France placed the country on its red list on Saturday – it was previously categorised as an amber list country. 

France defines red list countries as states where there is “an active circulation of the virus observed with a presence of worrying variants.” 

READ MORE How does France’s Covid traffic light system for travel work?

The United States, like France, is experiencing high levels of Covid-19 infection. American authorities last month urged US citizens not to visit France – this is advisory only, but can affect travel insurance.

The addition of the US to France’s red list means that unvaccinated people must quarantine at an address of their choosing for ten days following their arrival in France. Law enforcement officers will check to ensure that travellers are respecting the rules and issue hefty fines to those that do not. 

Vaccinated travellers do not face any changes. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

Vaccinated travellers 

Fully vaccinated travellers do not need an essential reason to travel. 

They do however need to provide proof of full vaccination (by the standards of their own country); a declaration of honour that they do not have any Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with someone infected with Covid; a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours before your departure. 

For the purposes of travel, France counts as fully vaccinated those who:

  • Are vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a single vaccine dose after previously recovering from Covid. Travellers must be 7 days after their dose
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna dose) are accepted 

Unvaccinated travellers 

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must have an essential reason to travel to France. French citizenship or residency counts as an essential reason as does coming to the country to get married. Tourism does not count as an essential reason for travel, nor family visits or visits from second-home owners. You can read the government’s full list of essential reasons here

You must also show a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours before your departure if you are more than 12-years-old; fill in this online form; fill out a declaration of honour stating that you do not have Covid symptoms and are not a contact case, available here; sign a form stating that you will submit to an antigen test, if asked, upon arrival in France; and have some kind of proof of where you will stay during your quarantine period – a hotel booking or a letter of invitation from a friend or family member should suffice. 

READ MORE US advises against travel to France over Covid-19 surge

You will have to isolate for ten days following arrival in France. Upon arrival, border officials will tell you which hours you are allowed to leave quarantine for essential tasks such as food shopping. 

People without a titre de séjour or French/EU/Schengen Zone nationality, whether vaccinated or not, must respect the 90-day rule, which states that visitors can spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU without applying for a visa or residency. 

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‘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.