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What new Covid rules come into place in France on Monday?

A nurse is at work in a French hospital.
A nurse is at work in a French hospital. A number of new Covid measures are being introduced on Monday to ease pressure on the country's health system. (Photo by Theo Rouby / AFP)
A number of important changes to Covid rules come into force in France on Monday ranging from new guidelines on self-isolation and mask rules. Here's a rundown.

France recorded record numbers of Covid cases over the Christmas holidays, with more than 200,000 new daily cases, ans hospitals are feeling the impact. 

“Delta is saturating intensive care units, Omicron [is driving] conventional hospitalisations,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told France Inter on Monday. 

Flu, gastroenteritis and bronchitis are adding further pressure on the French health system. 

Ministers are set to meet on Monday afternoon to reassess the country’s Covid response. New restrictions are possible but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know about new rules coming into place from January 3rd.

New self-isolation rules 

The amount of time you need to spend self isolating if you are a contact case or have tested positive for Covid-19 will be cut from Monday.

How the rules apply to you depends on your age and vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated people, over the age of 12, who test positive will have to isolate for seven days, but can leave quarantine after five days if they show a negative antigen or PCR test. 

Fully vaccinated people, over the age of 12, who are a contact case, do not need to isolate but must take a PCR or antigen test immediately and take self-tests two days and then four days after they first learned they came into contact with an infected person. 

To be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ you may need to have a booster depending on your age and the time since your second vaccine dose.

People over 12 who are not fully vaccinated must complete a 10-day quarantine if they test positive, but this is shortened to seven days should they present a negative antigen or PCR test at that stage.

People over 12 who are not fully vaccinated must isolate for seven days if they are a contact case and must take a negative PCR or antigen test on the 7th day before coming out of quarantine. 

No matter their vaccinations status, children under 12 must isolate for at least seven days if they test positive. They can leave on day five if they test negative via a PCR or antigen test and have not had any symptoms for 48 hours. 

Children under 12 must take a PCR test or antigen test immediately after realising that they are a contact case. Self tests must then be completed on Day 2 and Day 4. 

You can read a full breakdown of the rules HERE.

Remote working rules come into force

The government is enforcing new remote working rules for a period of at least three weeks to avoid the spread of Covid-19, amid record new case numbers.

The regulations say that for situations where it is possible, companies should adopt a minimum of three remote working days per week – with four remote days the target. Businesses face tough sanctions if they fail to follow the new protocol, with a fine of €1,000 per employee not conforming to rules. 

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Back to school

Children across France return to school on Monday – even though some politicians had called for the holidays to be extended in light of the ongoing Covid pandemic. Last week the government announced rigorous new testing requirements for pupils when a classmate tests positive. 

The testing regime described in the above self-isolation section applies. For children who are a contact case, parents must sign an attestation sur l’honneur, stating that all the required tests were conducted. You can find a template document to fill in HERE

Last month, the Education Ministry said that it had made €20 million available for schools to install CO2 captors in schools, which allow authorities to judge whether there is a sufficient aeration in classrooms to prevent the spread of Covid. 

New eating and drinking rules

Customers must be seated to consume drinks in bars and cafés. Eating or drinking in bars, cinemas and sporting facilities is banned. 

It will be illegal to sell sell food and drink on long-distance trains. SNCF have said that removing masks to eat or drink is not allowed but said some exceptions would be made for young children or vulnerable people. 

New mask rules 

Children over the age of six will have to wear masks in certain public spaces including markets and public transport according to a decree published on Saturday. Previously, this rule only applied to those over 11. This regulation does not apply to artistic and sporting activities.

All town and city centres in France will enforce mask wearing outside from Monday. Such a rule was already in place in Paris, Lyon and a number of other places. 

Venue limits enforced 

Most local authorities cancelled the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks and concerts. From Monday capacity limits of 2,000 people for inside events and 5,000 people for outside events, will be introduced. The limits do not apply to industry fairs, zoos or theme parks. They also do not apply to political rallies, for reasons you can read more about HERE.

Nightclubs to remain closed 

Nightclubs in France will remain closed until at least January 24th – a 14-day extension of the initial closure. 


Member comments

  1. I travelled to the U.K. Sunday, no problem if paperwork in place but amazed at how many people had folded bits of paper and appeared oblivious to necessary information, others trying to form fill on the spot. Creating havoc but plenty of warnings given!

  2. So, without a pass you can’t get an x-ray at the hospital but going to the hairdressers is just fine.

  3. Wearing masks outdoors became mandatory on Friday, Dec. 31 in Paris, but 3 days later I still see many, many people without masks outside. Are the authorities doing enough to get the word out and to enforce this new rule? I would love to see a police officer stop a group without masks and impose the fines we hear so much about, but I have never seen it happen at any point during this pandemic.

  4. Maybe they don’t want their already under pressure health staff and resources, burdened with travellers at the risk of neglecting their own.

  5. Well, partly political.
    It also made sense to slow down the seeding of Omicron in F & DE; even a week of ‘delay’ would save some people from infection before a(nother) jab.
    By now/days from now, though, there will be no logic in continuing the restrictions, but I would think that the political inertia – to see that continued block was v obviously pointless – means I don’t expect relaxation until end of the month.
    But I am still keeping fingers crossed that they will act mid month, so that our trip to daughter’s won’t have to be cancelled.
    NB Julie, not sure F no.s really higher than UK. UK doesn’t count reinfections, which are significant with Omicron, & also ran out of tests. I made a fruitless visit to get a box of LFTs before Xmas.

  6. The travel ban is politically motivated and not based on real numbers so don’t expect the rules to change once numbers go down.

  7. I also see no point in the travel bans at this stage of things. Omicron is everywhere, and of course the transportation services will take all necessary precautions. I can’t find any definitive information on when the bans will be lifted, either. It seems politically motivated rather than related to protecting people’s health.

  8. I thought I read they were lifting it this week? And Germany? France’s numbers are worse than ours now and Omichron is rife so I can’t understand why we’d still be banned? I’ve been hunting everywhere online to get the definitive rules, including government websites, but it’s so confusing and contradictory! Anyone got the full SP on this? We were due to travel there later this month…

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