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EXPLAINED: What do France's new Covid rules mean for tourists?

The Local France
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EXPLAINED: What do France's new Covid rules mean for tourists?
Tourists take a self in Etretat in Normandy. Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

France is planning a major relaxation of its Covid rules, but other restrictions - notably on travel - remain in place. This is what you need to know if you're planning a trip to France.

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On Monday, March 14th, France brings in a pretty radical relaxation of its Covid rules - the vaccine pass which has been in place in various forms since summer 2021 will be scrapped for almost all venues, while masks will no longer be required in most public spaces.

Here's a look at how the new rules will apply to you if you are visiting France either for a holiday, to see friends and family or visiting a second home.

Getting to France

Restrictions on travel do remain in place, so not everyone can enter France.

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France's green list has recently been expanded and if you're coming from a green list country you can enter France for any reason, including tourism. If you're fully vaccinated you don't need a Covid test. If you are not fully vaccinated to French standards, you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border.

Full details on travel rules for green countries HERE.

If you're entering from an orange list country - which includes the UK, USA and Australia - you may not be allowed to enter if you're unvaccinated.

Fully vaccinated arrivals can travel for any reason and do not need a Covid test.

Unvaccinated people can only travel if their trip is for essential reasons - you can find the full list here but it does not include holidays, family visits or visits to second-homes. Those who do qualify to travel will need a negative Covid test.

If applicable, proof of vaccination will need to be shown at the border - this can be your home country's vaccination certificate, there is no requirement to use the French vaccine pass at the border. A booster shot is not needed to enter the country.

The above rules do not change on March 14th - see here for the latest travel rules updates.

In France

Once you're in France, some rules relax from March 14th.

Vaccine pass - the vaccine pass is currently required for entry to a wide range of everyday venues including bars, cafés, tourist sites and long-distance trains.

It has caused particular headaches for visitors, including for non-Europeans who needed to exchange their vaccination certificate to get a French-approved QR code and for families with children over the age of 12.

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From March 14th a pass will only be required when visiting nursing homes, hospitals and venues where vulnerable people live. This pass is a 'health pass' so if you need to visit one of these venues you can show a recent negative Covid test instead of a vaccination certificate.

The pass is not required if you need emergency medical treatment while in France.

Full details here.

Mask rules - mask rules also relax on March 14th although they are not scrapped entirely. 

Masks will no longer be required in most indoor public spaces including bars, cafés, shops or workplaces. They will, however, still be required on all public transport (including trains, Metro, buses, taxis and VTC such as Uber, ferries and planes) and in all public transport hubs (eg airports, train stations, Metro stations). Failure to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose on public transport will be punishable by a €135 fine.

Masks will also be required to visit a hospital, medical centre or care home as either a patient or a visitor.

Private businesses are entitled to impose their own conditions of entry, so businesses such as shops, bars or restaurants are legally entitled to make mask-wearing a condition of entry, if they want.

Self-isolation - if you test positive for Covid while in France, you are obliged to self-isolate until your test is negative. If you are a contact case of someone who has tested positive you need to get tested, but if you are fully vaccinated and your test is negative you are not obliged to self-isolate, although it is recommended;

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors can get a Covid test in France

Recommendations - the rest of France's Covid protocols that remain in place are recommendations rather than rules. People are still advised to physically distance, or to wear a mask if they are in an indoor space where physical distancing is not possible.

The gestes barrières (hygiene measures) remain recommended with the suggestion that people should refrain from shaking hands or doing la bise (the French double cheek kiss), while people are advised to regularly wash their hands or use hand sanitiser.

What next?

Travel rules generally change on a country-by-country basis, you can find the latest updates here.

The vaccine pass is technically suspended rather than scrapped, and could be reintroduced if another wave of Covid comes along. many epidemiologists are predicting that this could happen in the autumn. You can find the latest announcements on rules here.

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