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COVID-19 RULES

What changes as France eases Covid restrictions?

Wednesday, February 2nd, marked the beginning of a two-step process of easing some of France's current Covid-related restrictions on daily life. Here's what changed and also a reminder of the rules that remain in place.

A man sits at his lap top
Rules on remote working are eased from Wednesday. Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP

Wednesday February 2nd marked the first stage of the lifting of some of France’s remaining Covid rules. Other restrictions remain in place until February 16th, while certain rules will stay “until further notice”.

Wednesday, February 2nd

Masks – An end to face mask requirements in outdoor spaces – including in ski lifts and in the queues for ski lifts. They will still be required in all indoor places and public transport, while local authorities can impose extra mask requirements if necessary. So if authorities in ski resorts feel the need to reimpose the outdoor mask rule for cable cars or queues they can do so.

Gatherings – An end to limits on the size of gatherings or crowds (currently set at 2,000 indoors or 5,000 outdoors) meaning large events like Nice carnival can again take place, while sporting events can take place in front of full crowds once again.

READ ALSO What you need to know about watching sport in France

Remote working – End of compulsory télétravail (remote working) for three days a week. It remains recommended for those who can to work at least part of the week remotely, but this now returns to being a matter for employees and employers to decide between them.

And this is nothing to do with Covid, but February 2nd is also the festival of La Chandeleur in France, so you can celebrate your newfound freedom with a lovely crêpe.

February 16th

This is the second stage of restrictions being lifted.

  • People will again be allowed to eat in cinemas and sports grounds, as well as on trains and planes. This had 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 will reopen and the ban on dancing in bars is lifted

Travel rules

Rules around travel in and out of France have their own timetable and are not part of the government’s calendar, as they depend not only on the situation in France but also the health situation in other countries.

Unvaccinated travellers from countries including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia are still banned from entering France unless their journey is essential and most non-EU arrivals also require a negative Covid test in order to enter the country.

Travel rules are regularly reviewed however – you can read the latest on upcoming changes HERE.

Rules that remain in place

The following rules have no set end date, and are in place until the health situation shows a sustained improvement.

Masks – must be worn in all public indoor spaces as well as on public transport. There are no exemptions to mask use and you risk a €135 fine if you are not wearing a mask correctly

Vaccine pass – the vaccine pass is required to enter a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, ski lifts, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites, gyms, leisure centres and long-distance transport. It requires proof of full vaccination – a negative Covid test is no longer accepted – and may also require boosters – full details HERE

The health minister has said that the vaccine pass could be scrapped ‘by July’ if the health situation permits.

Schools protocols – schools have regularly-reviewed Covid protocols in place including testing, mask rules and changes to the use of canteens and play areas in order to minimise mixing.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid you are required to self-isolate – full details HERE

Barrier gestures – this is a recommendation not a rule so you can’t actually be fined for giving someone a hearty handshake or a peck on the cheek, but is still recommended to keep these gestures to a minimum and practice physical distancing where possible.

Member comments

  1. None of this makes sense anymore, with such high Omicron numbers and the vaccine having VERY limited effect/ if any on it with breakthrough infections obvious- why any restrictions?The vaxxed can go to a concert in the thousands inc being in the famous ‘mosh pit’, but the unvaccinated can’t get a coffee on an outside terrace. It’s punishment for not being coerced – enough is enough France- you are being vindictive Macron, but then we knew you we like that with your ‘piss off the unvaxxed’ rhetoric.

  2. The travel bans and restrictions no longer make sense. Omicron has shown that even triple vaccinated people can get it and travel restrictions – especially to UK – haven’t stopped it’s spread. During January daily new case numbers in France outstripped UK by a considerable margin so imposing continued restrictions on travel from UK seems absurd.

  3. The vaccines, especially when boosted, are VERY EFFECTIVE (and exceptionally safe). The chance of fully-vaccinated boosted individual getting infected is minor, IF infected anyways the chance of a serious case is extremely minor, and IF that very unlikely case does happen to be serious (very very unlikely), the chances of ending up in ICU are close to non-existent.

    The contrast with a un-vaccinated, or not-boosted, individual is stark. Orders of magnitude-scale difference.

    President Macron didn’t go far enough with the “piss off morons” statement. Anti-scientific nutcases are almost all (and frequently ALL) of the Covid-cases in ICU. The ICUs are full with teh stooopids, blocking access to ICU facilities for those which genuine, involuntary, problems.

    The vaccines do not provide everyone with perfect protection, but NAME ONE VACCINE which does! That “reasoning”, that because “there are breakthrough cases so there’s no point in getting vaccined” is unconvincing. It uses the “reasoning” that “since it’s not prefect it’s useless”, which means there’s no point in wearing a seatbelt, or having a parachute when skydiving, or eating food (you might choke), or using stairs (you can fall), or indeed doing anything… Whatever it is, it might go wrong, and is therefore useless.

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For members

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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