Self-isolation still compulsory for people who test positive for Covid in France

Although many Covid related rules have been relaxed or scrapped altogether, it is still mandatory to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while in France, and the French government has issued a reminder of the rules.

Covid-19 rapid antigen tests
(Photo: Damien Meyer / AFP)

According to Covidtracker, the reproduction rate, or R rate, of the virus is currently 1.1 and falling, but that still means that Covid-19 is spreading rather than being in retreat. has reiterated the health policies surrounding Covid-19, including the need to isolate for anyone who has symptoms, even if they are waiting for the results of a test.

Anyone who has Covid, or is symptomatic and is waiting for the results of a confirmatory test should self-isolate, whether or not they are fully vaccinated, the government body reminded people in France.

Isolation requires people to remain at home and strictly limit contact with other people to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus.

The duration of isolation and the health instructions depend on your vaccination status.

READ ALSO France extends second Covid vaccine boosters to over 60s

As soon as symptoms appear (fever or feeling of fever, cough, headache, sore throat, aches and pains, unusual fatigue, diarrhea…), you must:

  • perform an antigen test immediately (if positive, perform a confirmatory RT-PCR test) or RT-PCR, regardless of your vaccination status, history of infection, or risk contact status;
  • Isolate yourself and reduce your contacts;
  • Prepare a list of people you have been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms;
  • Work from home whenever possible.

While waiting for the test results, you are considered a ‘confirmed case’ and should remain isolated and protect your family.

Antigen tests are available on a walk-in basis at most pharmacies in France, while PCR tests are done at medical laboratories and selected pharmacies and generally need to be booked in advance.

There is no limit on who can get a test, but non-residents may need to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

What to do if you test positive

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 should isolate, but their period of self-confinement changes depending on their vaccination status.

Those who are considered fully vaccinated (a vaccination with a booster or a primary vaccination completed less than 4 months ago), and children under 12 who test positive should:

  • self-isolate for 7 days after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of collection of the positive test;
  • perform an antigenic test or RT-PCR test on day five:
  • if the day five test is negative and there have been no symptoms for 48 hours, isolation can be terminated;
  • if that test is positive or if no day five test is performed, isolation must be continued until day seven, without a new test to be performed at the end of the isolation period.

If an antigen test returns a positive result, it must be confirmed with an RT-PCR test.

Anyone who is not vaccinated or who has an incomplete vaccination schedule (booster not completed within the time frame required for the health pass) should:

  • isolate for to 10 days after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of the positive test;
  • perform an antigenic or RT-PCR test on day seven after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of collection of the positive test:
  • if the day seven test is negative and there have been no symptoms for 48 hours, isolation can be terminated;
  • if it is positive or if no test is performed, the isolation must be continued until day 10 without any new test.

Note: It is recommended to respect the barrier measures (wearing a mask and hygiene measures) for the seven days after isolation ends following a confirmed positive test. 

If, at any point while positive for Covid-19, you have difficulty breathing, immediately call 15 (114 for deaf or hard of hearing people).

Assurance Maladie now offers an online tool: Lister mes cas contacts . It allows Covid-19 positive people to list the people they were in contact with before their Covid-19 infection.

READ ALSO 9 ways that two years of Covid have changed France

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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).