France scraps Covid test requirement for all vaccinated travellers

The French government has announced the end of the requirement for a negative Covid test for all fully-vaccinated arrivals into the country.

France scraps Covid test requirement for all vaccinated travellers
Passengers board a Eurostar train at St Pancras International station in London on December 17, 2021, the final day before new restrictions are imposed on travelers to combat the spread of the Omicron variant. - France has announced that from Saturday the obligation to justify "compelling reasons" for travel from and to the United Kingdom, with the approach of the end-of-year holidays, because of the Omicron variant, which is developing at high speed in the UK. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

Currently arrivals from within the EU do not require a test, but travellers coming from almost all non-EU countries, including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, need to present a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours of departure.

However on Friday the government announced it was scrapping that requirement, saying: “proof of vaccination will be sufficient to come to France whatever country you are coming from, just as it was before the spread of the Omicron variant”.

The change comes into effect at 00.01am on Saturday, February 12th. 

Announcing the change, the statement from Prime Minister Jean Caxtex’s office said: “In view of the new phase of the pandemic characterised, in most countries, by the predominance of the Omicron variant and a high level of vaccination, the government has decided to lighten the health control system at the borders, particularly for vaccinated travellers.”

Travellers who are aged 12 and over, are not fully vaccinated and are coming from a country on the orange list (which includes the UK, and USA) cannot travel to France unless they have an essential reason – click HERE for the full list of accepted reasons.

Those who do qualify for travel will need to show a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours of their departure date, and quarantine on arrival in France.

A booster shot is not required to enter France, but may be needed to get a vaccine pass for entry to venues including bars, cafés and ski lifts.

EXPLAINED How does the French vaccine pass work?

The French change comes one day after the UK’s travel rules also changed, lifted the requirement for post-arrival tests for fully vaccinated travellers.

Vaccinated travellers can now travel between France and the UK with no testing required at all. 

READ ALSO The vaccine pass rules for travelling to France with children

France on Friday also announced an easing of its mask rules and a more relaxed health protocol for schools, in addition to the planned changes to health rules that come in next week

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France hit by shortages at fuel stations after strikes at refineries

Many Total Energies fuel stations across France are reporting shortages of petrol and diesel as industrial action by refinery workers continued on Thursday. However, the company's fuel discount may also be to blame.

France hit by shortages at fuel stations after strikes at refineries

Employees of Total Energies have been staging industrial action that includes blockades at refineries, in an ongoing dispute over pay. 

As of Thursday, strike action continued in four of the five refineries operated by Total, according to Franceinfo

However some have blamed Total’s extra fuel discount – on top of the government’s 30 centimes per litre fuel rebate – for the shortages at filling stations across the country. 

While the issue has been primarily concentrated in the Paris region, it also extends north to the Pas-de-Calais and Hauts-de-France départements and West toward Brittany, and can be found in some other parts of the country too.

Almost half of the TotalEnergies fuel stations in the Paris region were out of stock on October 4th, according to France bleu.

La Voix du Nord reported on Monday that “From Saint-Léonard to Marquise, it was impossible to fill up. The same situation has been observed in Arras.

The pumps were also dry in eight TotalEnergies stations in Strasbourg and its surrounding area, according to BFMTV.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Olivier Véran said during a press briefing that there is “no shortage of fuel.”

He went on to explain that 12 percent of stations across the country were experiencing difficulties providing at least one type of fuel, while at least 30 percent of service stations in Hauts-de-France were impacted. 

“There are temporary tensions,” said Véran. However, he advised that people “not create a panic affect” and “not all rush [to the stations]. We will not run out of gasoline.” The government spokesperson said that the situation is being closely monitored, and that strategic stocks may be called on if necessary as strike action continues. 

Local authorities have also asked the operators of some stations in the north of the country “to set up priority access” for “medical transport” such as doctors and nurses, according to La Voix du Nord.

Customers can check to see if stations near them are low in stock by consulting the map on TotalEnergies’ website, HERE.

The problem has been ongoing for several days, after refinery workers staged industrial action beginning on September 27th to push for the oil group to increase workers’ wages due to inflation. 

However, the refinery workers’ strike is not the only reason for fuel shortages at TotalEnergies service stations. The company began offering customers an additional discount on fuel prices at the beginning of September, which could be added on top of the government’s existing fuel subsidy.

On July 22nd, the TotalEnergies announced it would offer a discount of €0.20 per litre at all its service stations in the country from September 1st until November 1st. In the second phase, which would run from November until December 31, the discount will be €0.10 per litre.

As a result of the campaign, the oil giant has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of customers frequenting its stations, which has left many without the necessary stocks to meet high demand.

Additionally, the availability of fuel in stations has been impacted by the extension of industrial action by refinery workers, which was originally set to run only three days.

Despite several stations struggling to meet customer demand, the oil company assured customers that there is “no shortage of fuel” and that it “has built up stocks and is importing regularly,” according to France régions.

When will the industrial action end?

According to La Voix du Nord, as of Thursday there was no update on negotiations between union leaders and TotalEnergies. 

Frederic Plan, General Manager of the French Federation of Fuels, Heating and Construction, told French news site 20 minutes that “as the strike continues in the refineries, there will be problems of resupply.”

He added that he and his organisation “have absolutely no information on the progress of negotiations that would allow the strikes to stop at the refineries’ shipments.”

According to Christophe Aubert, the head of the CGT union at two refineries (Seine-Maritime and Bouches-du-Rhône) told La Voix du Nord that these two sites were “still at a total standstill” on Thursday.