SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19 RULES

Covid rules: What changes in France on Monday

As France gradually relaxes its Covid rules the next stage comes into force on Monday and concerns face masks and testing - here's what changes.

Covid rules: What changes in France on Monday
Masks will remain compulsory on public transport. Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

When

In light of falling Covid cases, the French government has announced that it will relax mask wearing rules from Monday, February 28th. 

Where?

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.

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

Vaccine pass

Remember that you can only enter a vaccine pass venue if you have:

  • Proof of full vaccination (including a booster if you are over 18)
  • A certificate of recent recovery from Covid – full details on how to get that HERE
  • An attestation de contre-indication – this is a certificate stating that you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. This must conform to the French QR code format – full details HERE

Local rules and recommendations  

It has not been necessary to wear a mask outside since February 2nd – although it is still recommended that people wear masks when meeting in large groups. 

Local authorities have the right to impose their own mask-wearing rules. If you are unsure about the situation in your area, check with the local mairie (town hall) or prefecture. 

Likewise private businesses are legally entitled to make mask-wearing a rule.

In addition to the mask-wearing rules, France is also lifting some of its other strict Covid-related rules on a rolling timetable. 

CALENDAR When does France lift its Covid rules

What other changes take place on  Monday? 

The testing protocol for people who have come into contact with someone infected with Covid, a cas contact in French, is to be relaxed on February 28th.

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. 

If your self-test is positive, you will need to take an antigen or PCR test to confirm the result. If this indicates that you are still positive, you will need to self isolate. 

If you are a contact case but fully vaccinated and test negative after your initial test, there is no need to self-isolate. If you are a contact case but not fully vaccinated, the current rules state that you need to respect a seven-day quarantine and that you should test at day zero and again on day seven. A negative test is required to leave isolation after that period.

Other changes

Other rules have been relaxed during February, but the mask rule is the last change that has a confirmed date.

The next stages are likely to be scrapping mask requirements in spaces such as schools and workplaces and lifting (or at least limiting) the use of the vaccine pass.

These changes do not have fixed dates but are instead dependent on France hitting targets relating to Covid case numbers and hospital rates – full details here.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 ALERT

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.

SHOW COMMENTS