Traveling to France during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you’re fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on May 13.

(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to France, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

France has had some of the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions in the world. Although it reopened to visitors over summer 2020, the country has been put back into lockdown twice since then. After tentatively reopening from a less restrictive third lockdown, France has seen Covid cases steadily rise yet again, which led to some restrictions being re-introduced. However, while a few safety measures remain in place, the vast majority of these restrictions have now been eased.

What’s on offer

The historic boulevards of Paris, the fashionable sweep of La Croisette in Cannes and the rolling lavender fields and vineyards of Provence. France remains one of the world’s most enduring tourist destinations.

With superb food, even better wine and landscapes and cities to satisfy every kind of traveler, it never disappoints.

Who can go

As of February 12, fully vaccinated travelers aged 12 and over can visit France provided they present proof of vaccination and complete a sworn statement declaring that they are not suffering from any Covid-19 symptoms and haven’t been in contact with any confirmed cases in the 14 days prior to travel.

However, the rules have since changed on who qualifies as fully vaccinated.

Visitors from the UK aged 18 or over who had their second Covid-19 vaccination administered over nine months ago and have not had a booster jab will no longer be considered as fully vaccinated, and must follow the same rules as unvaccinated travelers, according to an update on the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

France currently has a traffic light system for non-vaccinated visitors, that separates countries into categories, while a new “scarlet red” category has been introduced due to the Omicron variant.

On March 30, Guillaume Bazard, the French consul-general in London, announced via Twitter that the UK would be added to France’s green list on March 31.

To be classed as fully vaccinated, travelers must have had two doses of one of the four EU-approved vaccines, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. The second dose must have been administered at least two weeks prior to travel. Those who had their second dose more than nine months ago will not be considered fully vaccinated unless they’ve had a booster jab.

After initially declaring that travelers administered with Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, would not be considered as fully vaccinated, authorities have since announced that they will be recognizing this vaccine.

Non-vaccinated travelers coming from destinations designated “green” need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result taken no more than 24 hours before departure.

As of February 12, non-vaccinated arrivals from countries on this list aren’t required to quarantine on arrival provided they submit a a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours, or an antigen test result taken within 48 hours pre-departure and fill out a sworn statement declaring that they are not suffering from Covid-19 symptoms and haven’t been in contact with any confirmed cases in the two weeks prior to travel.

Non-vaccinated travelers from destinations designated “orange” can only enter if they have a valid reason. They are required to complete an international travel certificate to prove their essential reason travel as well as adhere to the requirements listed above.

As of November 1, non-vaccinated travelers arriving from the UK to Paris on board the Eurostar will be required to take a Covid-19 test on arrival at Gare du Nord. Those who test positive will be subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

In January 2022, the country replaced its health pass with the vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) for those over the age of 16 that stores digital versions of users’ vaccination certificates. From January 15, adults who were administered with their last vaccination dose before January 15, have been required to show receipt of a booster injection in order to extend their health pass.

For those aged between 12 and 15, the health pass (pass sanitaire,) which stores either proof of vaccination, proof of a negative PCR or antigen test, or evidence of having recently recovered from Covid (provided they’ve tested positive more than two weeks ago and less than six months ago) still applies. The time limit on test results was reduced from 48 hours to 24 hours on November 29.

Paper versions of the documents are accepted, along with photo identification.

The pass system came to an end in “every place where it is applied” on March 14. However, health pass requirements remain in hospitals and care homes.

What are the restrictions?

As stated above, a traffic light system is now in place for non-vaccinated travelers, with different rules depending on whether the country they’re traveling from has been designated green or orange.

Fully vaccinated visitors aged 12 and over must provide proof of vaccination and complete a sworn statement declaring that they are not suffering from any Covid-19 symptoms and have not been in contact with any confirmed cases in the 14 days prior to travel in order to enter.

What’s the Covid situation?

France has been one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, with over 29.2 million cases and more than 148,196 deaths as of May 13.

The emergence of the Omicron variant towards the end of 2021 brought about yet another rise in infections, with over 2.5 million infections recorded in one week towards the end of January 2022. While the figures began to decline in the following weeks, they began rising once again soon after. However, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country has since stabilized.

There were 248,089 cases in the week leading up to May 13. Over 80% of the population is fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

President Macron had been cautiously easing restrictions in the country after going into lockdown for a third time, and many measures have been lifted. While the discovery of the new variant led to some being brought back in, restrictions are now being eased once again.

Nightclubs were ordered to close in December, but they were permitted to reopen from February 16.

The limit on audience capacity for public gatherings was lifted on February 2.

Masks or face coverings are no longer required indoors. While they are still mandatory on public transport, Olivier Veran, the country’s health minister, recently announced that this measure will be lifted from May 16.

However, wearing a mask “remains recommended,” according to Veran.

In July 2021, French parliament approved a bill that would make it a legal requirement for residents to use the health pass, which stores proof of vaccination, negative PCR tests or evidence that the user has recently recovered from Covid-19, in order to access cafe terraces, restaurants, cinemas, theaters and other culture and leisure activities, as well as trains and airplanes. This was extended to included those aged 12 and over.

However, the requirements for the pass have since changed, with negative PCR tests or proof of recent recovery from the virus no longer valid. Now, only proof of vaccination will be accepted for those aged 16 and over.

A vaccine pass is no longer required to enter indoor venues, aside from hospitals and care homes.

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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Tamara Hardingham-Gill contributed to this report


https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/france-travel-covid-19/index.html