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

(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 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 is seeing Covid cases steadily rising yet again.

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 July 18, fully vaccinated travelers from any country of departure can enter France without submitting a PCR test.

To be classed as fully vaccinated, travelers need to 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.

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.

France had previously been implementing a traffic light system separating countries into categories, with different rules for those who were fully vaccinated and those who had not been vaccinated.

However, this system now only applies to non-vaccinated visitors, although travel from countries on France’s red list is advised against.

Non-vaccinated travelers from “green” countries are required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure.

Those traveling from Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Spain, the Netherlands or Portugal must provide a test taken less than 24 hours before arrival.

Non-vaccinated travelers coming from destinations designated “amber” will have to provide a “compelling” reason for their visit, as well as submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken less than 48 hours departure, or 24 hours for those from the UK. In addition, travelers must spend seven days in mandatory quarantine on arrival.

Those who’ve previously contracted Covid-19 can present a certificate of recovery dated more than 11 days and less than six months before the date of arrival instead of a negative test result..”

The move came after the European Union recommended that Americans should be banned from nonessential travel to its member states due to an increase in Covid-19 cases in the US.

Non-vaccinated travelers on France’s “red” list can only enter if they have a valid reason, and are required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure and go into mandatory quarantine “supervised by security forces” for 10 days.

All non-vaccinated travelers entering France must provide a sworn declaration indicating that they have no Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone with a confirmed case of the virus within two weeks of their trip.

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.

The country has also introduced a health pass (“pass sanitaire”) that stores digital versions of users’ vaccination certificates, proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken in the past 48 hours, or evidence of having recently recovered from Covid (provided they’ve tested positive more than two weeks ago and less than six months ago).

The pass, which can be accessed via the French Covid-tracker app TousAntiCovid or as a QR code, was approved for use for summer travel from July 1.

Paper versions of the documents will still be accepted, along with photo identification.

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, amber or red.

The list of compelling reasons certain travelers must declare before they are allowed to enter now includes further family situations, so that couples and parents split between France and another country can travel to visit each other and/or their children.

At present, fully vaccinated travelers are permitted to enter France without restrictions.

What’s the Covid situation?

France has been one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, with over 7.3 million cases and 118,970 deaths as of November 10.

Cases were soaring earlier in the year, with 117,900 new cases reported on April 11 alone. Although the number dropped considerably lower in the following weeks, with 2,664 new cases being tallied on July 2, they soon began to rise again, with country registering over 100 deaths from Covid-19 for the first time since June on August 17. In October, the number of weekly cases rose for the first time since mid-August, while the amount of people hospitalized with the virus was increasing.

Over 100 million vaccination doses have been administered in the country as of November 10.

France relaunched its test and trace app in October. TousAntiCovid is available for iPhone and Android devices.

What can visitors expect?

President Macron has been cautiously easing restrictions in the country after going into lockdown for a third time, and many measures have already been lifted.

Domestic travel restrictions were lifted on May 3, meaning residents are permitted to travel within the country again, and the national curfew has been lifted.

Elementary schools and nurseries were reopened on April 26 after being closed for three weeks, while high school students returned to indoor classes on May 3.

Restaurants, cafes and open-air terraces reopened for outdoor service on May 19, with a maximum of six people per table, and nonessential shops have also opened their doors again.

Spectators are allowed back into arenas, and museums, monuments, theaters, auditoriums with seated audiences can reopen with a maximum capacity of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors.

Gyms reopened on June 9, while indoor dining has resumed at restaurants and cafes, with establishments operating at 50% capacity indoors. Nightclubs are allowed to reopen from July 9. The Eiffel Tower has also reopened for the first time in nine months.

On July 26, French parliament approved a bill that will 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 legal requirement now applies to everyone aged over 12.

The government has since announced plans to extend the health pass measures to July 2022. Rules around mask-wearing while outdoors are also being eased. As of June 20, masks are only mandatory outside in crowded places such as markets and stadiums. However, masks are still required while in public spaces indoors and on public transport.

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