Covid-19 travel restrictions between France and UK set to be eased

France is ready to ease the strict travel restrictions to and from the UK, the French government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Passengers wait to board a Eurostar train at St Pancras International station in London before new restrictions were imposed on travel to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.
Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP

Travel restrictions between France and the UK are to be eased, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said in his weekly press briefing.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting, Attal said that the French government had “decided to expand the list of compelling reasons – in particular professional reasons” for travel between the two countries.

And he added that restrictions may be eased even further as early as next week, because “the Omicron variant is affecting both countries in a similar manner”.

He did not, however, go into further detail or give a detailed timeframe.

READ ALSO When is France likely to lift its travel restrictions on the UK?

France banned virtually all travel to and from the UK the weekend before Christmas in a bid to curb the spread of the variant.

READ ALSO ‘Strict and stressful’: What travel between France and UK is like under Covid rules

Under current rules, only those who fit a small number of criteria for ‘essential travel’ can make the trip, and even those who are allowed to travel must complete a large swathe of paperwork.

READ ALSO The 9 essential pieces of paperwork for France-UK travel under new rules

We will update our Travel section as soon as we have more detail on this.

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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).