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Calendar: When is France lifting Covid restrictions?

France has now laid out the full programme for lifting Covid restrictions - here's what is happening and when.

An outdoor market in France.
Calendar: When is France lifting Covid restrictions? Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

Monday, January 24th

  • Vaccine pass 

France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass on January 24th. From this date, a negative test will no longer be accepted in order to access venues including bars, restaurants, cafés, gyms, leisure centres, tourist sites, cinemas, theatres and long-distance trains.

Instead people must show either proof of full vaccination (including a booster for those eligible), proof of recent recovery from Covid or an attestation de contre-indication (a certificate that you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons)

READ ALSO What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

Exceptions to this rule are children aged between 12 and 15 and people needing entry to medical establishments as a visitor or for a non-urgent appointment. In these cases a negative test no more than 24 hours old will be accepted.

  • Vaccine booster for teenagers

Also on January 24th the vaccine booster shot programme will open up to children aged between 12 and 17.

Wednesday, February 2nd (first stage of lifting restrictions)

  • An end to mask requirements in outdoor spaces
  • An end to limits on the size of gatherings (currently set at 2,000 indoors or 5,000) outdoors
  • End of compulsory remote working for three days a week, although it remains recommended for those who can

Tuesday, February 15th

  • A booster dose will be required within four months of the second dose of  Covid vaccine in order to keep the vaccine pass valid and activated. Currently the pass deactivates if people have not had their booster within seven months after getting their second shot, but this window shrinks to four months from February 15th. People are eligible three months after their second dose

READ ALSO When will my health pass deactivate?

  • Unvaccinated people who receive a first dose between January 20th and February 15th will be able to use a combination of their first dose and a negative Covid test in order to access vaccine pass venues. Those who get the first dose after February 15th will have to wait until seven days after their second dose in order to use the vaccine pass.
  • The certificate of recovery from Covid, which can be used instead of proof of vaccination for the vaccine pass, will only be valid for four months from today, after previously being valid for six months. If you are not vaccinated but recently caught Covid, you can upload a positive test result that is more than 11 days old but less than four months old to the TousAntiCovid app. People who tested positive in France can upload their test results direct to the app, those who tested positive outside France face a more complicated process – full details here

Wednesday, February 16th (second stage of lifting restrictions)

  • People will again be allowed to eat in cinemas and sports grounds, as well as on trains and planes. This has been banned in order to ensure that people remained masked in indoor spaces
  • Cafés and bars will not longer be limited to table service only
  • Concerts and music gigs can once again take place
  • Nightclubs reopen and the ban on dancing in bars is lifted

Monday, February 21st 

Children returning to primary schools after the February half term will be able to enjoy a level 2 Covid protocol – a downgrade from the level 3 rules that were in place before the break. 

  • Children will be allowed to mix with others of their own age group – rather than being confined to mixing with their own class;
  • Children will not have to wear masks while outside;
  • Inside sports are allowed once again (except for contact sports), even without a mask.

These rules apply to schools in Zone B from February 21st, Zone A from February 28th and Zone C from March 7th. 

Parents of children under the age of 12 will no longer need to sign an attestation sur l’honneur declaring that these tests have been taken. 

Monday, February 28th 

  • Mask wearing rules relaxed 

Masks will no longer be obligatory in venues that require visitors to show a vaccine pass – bars, restaurants, cafés, ski lifts, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites, large events, gyms, concert halls and libraries.

They will still be required for all indoor spaces that do not require a vaccine pass, such as shops and workplaces.

Masks will also still be required on all public transport – even on the long-distance routes for which a vaccine pass is required.

  • Testing protocol relaxed 

People will no longer need to take two self-tests after an initial PCR/antigen test after coming into contact with someone who has Covid. 

You will still need to take an antigen or PCR test on the day you come into contact with an infected person (or as soon as you realise this was the case). But instead of two follow-up self-tests on Day 2 and Day 4, you will only need to take the Day 2 test. 

Monday, March 14th

  • Mask rule lifted

Masks will no longer be required in any indoor public spaces, with the exception of public transport, hospitals and other medical establishments and care homes. Any privately-run business will still be allowed to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

  • Vaccine pass suspended

The vaccine pass will no longer be required for entry to any venue in France. However a health pass – showing either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test – will still be required for non-emergency treatment in a hospital or medical centre or to visit a hospital, care home or any other establishment that houses very vulnerable people.

What’s left?

Masks are still required on public transport, in hospitals and care homes.

A health pass is required to entry to establishment with very vulnerable residents such as care homes. Either proof of fully-vaccinated status or a recent negative Covid test is required.

People who test positive for Covid are required to self-isolate until they test negative.

Travel restrictions are still in place for several countries including the UK, USA and Australia – unvaccinated people can only travel for essential reasons. Most of the rest of the world is on the green list, which means that vaccinated people can travel with no restrictions and unvaccinated people can travel for any reason but need to show a recent negative test at the border – full details here.  

Member comments

  1. Maintaining the testing requirements for entry into France is ludicrous, given that the infection rate in France is so unbelievably high !!!

      1. Hopefully so – I have cancelled my visit next month and my next visit will now be at Easter !

  2. Does anyone know if tourists who travel to France and have an approved vaccine card with a booster than was administered longer than 4 months after the second shot will be given the French Vaccine Card at a pharmacy?

  3. I am a semi-retired International Referee Coach representing the professional (Basketball) international league EUROLEAGUE as a Match Assessor with teams in France in Paris, Bourg-en-Bresse, Lyon, and Monaco. Since the 24 hr PCR pre-entry test required rather than 48 hrs in most countries, I have been unable to enter France and continue my part-time employment. Is there any movement or flexibility for a 48hr pre-entry PCR at all, despite having all 3 vaccinations?

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.