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France lifts all Covid-related travel restrictions as State of Emergency ends

From August 1st 2022 France is no longer under a State of Emergency, and this means several important changes for travellers.

France lifts all Covid-related travel restrictions as State of Emergency ends
The health pass is no longer required at the French border. Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP

France declared a State of Emergency in March 2020 because of the Covid pandemic, and that state has been extended several times.

From August 1st, however, that is officially lifted, although the government does retain certain powers to impose Covid travel rules.

The key difference for those travelling, is that the end of the State of emergency means the end of all Covid-related restrictions at the border.

Travellers to France – regardless of country they are travelling from – no longer need to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test, an attestation that they are free of Covid symptoms or any justification for their journey. 

Basically, travel goes back to how it was before the pandemic with no requirement for health-related paperwork. For full details, click HERE.

However, the government has retained the right to reinstate compulsory Covid testing at the border if the health situation changes – for example in the case of the emergence of a concerning new variant.

This can be done if the Health Minister has reported its necessity and “after the opinion of the competent scientific authority” and does not require a debate in parliament to impose, which means that new rules could be imposed quickly. The exact nature of the testing rules would depend on the severity of the new outbreak.

READ MORE: What are the new Covid rules as France scraps its State of Emergency?

The ability to bring in extra testing for those entering or leaving France – if the health situation requires it – remains in place until March 31, 2023. It can be extended from that date if parliament agrees.

The wearing of masks on public transport such as trains, taxis and the Metro remains “strongly recommended” but is no longer compulsory. Airlines have the right to impose mask rules as a condition of travel, so you should check with your carrier before you travel. 

Once in France the majority of Covid-related restrictions have now been lifted – you can read more here.  

Some countries still have requirements for vaccines or testing at the border, so if you are travelling from France, check with your destination country on their rules. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

Several French unions have filed strike notices for February, with some aiming to target to busy February holiday period - here's what you can expect.

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

France is in the grip of a major confrontation between unions and the government over plans to reform the pension system.

So far, the main actions have been concentrated on one-day strikes that are supported by all eight of the union federations, however an increasing number of unions are filing notices for renewable or unlimited strikes, with some targeting the February holidays.

The French minister of tourism, Olivia Gregoire, called on unions to respect the “sacred period” of school holidays (which in France run from February 4th to March 6th, depending on which zone you are in).

Meanwhile, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told RTL that if the government remains stubborn then “there is a possibility of days of action during the school vacations”.

As a result, it is likely that further notices will be filed.  The Local will update this story with the latest – but here’s what we know so far.

January actions

Tuesday, January 31st – this is the next one-day mass strike, which will likely see severe disruption on many services, particularly public transport – full details here.

February actions

Trains – two rail unions – the hardline Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots – have filed a renewable strike notice for “mid-February” in addition to a two-day strike which is to take place on Tuesday, February 7th, and Wednesday, and 8th. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Ski resorts – two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

The CGT union in particular has threatened further actions during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. You can read more here.

Oil refinery workers – refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. 

The national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in “lower throughput” and “the stoppage of shipments.”

The most concrete effect of this is likely to be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

Power cuts – the hardline CGT have also threatened more “direct action” with employees of the State electricity sector threatening to cut the power to certain towns. This isn’t a scheduled action (or indeed a legal one, the government has promised to prosecute workers who do this) but short targeted power cuts could continue into February.

UK border – finally, if you are travelling to or from the UK, be aware that a UK Border Force strike is planned for February 1st and 2nd, which is likely to increase waiting times at the border.

We will update this story as more details are released, and you can also find all the latest in our strike section HERE.

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