All of France is on drought alert as of this month, but do you know what the rules are for your department? Plus, France’s state of emergency finally comes to an end, resulting in good news for travellers. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Drought Alerts in France
In the wake of July’s record-breaking heatwave and with high temperatures predicted throughout August, all of metropolitan France’s 96 départements have now issued drought alerts. There are four different alert levels and each one requires different levels of action from the public.
1 – warning (vigilance): There are no official restrictions in place, but it is strongly recommended to reduce water usage.
2 – alert (alerte): Local bans may be introduced for watering gardens and green areas, washing cars, or agricultural uses during certain hours of the day. Limits may be imposed on water use for swimming pools.
3 – heightened alert (alerte renforcée): Stricter limits and/or bans are placed on water use for gardens, golf courses, and green spaces, washing cars, and agricultural means.
4 – crisis (crise): Bans are placed on water usage for anything other than “necessary” means. This often means a complete ban on watering gardens, washing cars, filling swimming pools, and non-essential agricultural practices.
Water use regulations are set by local departments according to the level of alert in your commune, and the exact rules may vary even between local areas, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest information – your local mairie should be your first port of call if you are unsure. Rules are enforceable by law and patrols are often carried out.
For an interactive map of France’s drought alert levels, click here.
2. France Ends Covid State of Emergency
Although almost all Covid-related health restrictions have now been lifted, until this Sunday (July 31st), France has remained under a ‘State of Emergency Plan’ that allowed the government to reintroduce national health measures and restrictions in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the state of emergency plan comes to an end, parliament has passed a new ‘loi sanitaire’ bill which details exactly which measures the government has the power to implement in the event of further waves or variants of Covid.
Notably, the bill puts an end to the possibility of a further confinement (lockdown), couvre-feu (curfew), or the reintroduction of the Passe Sanitaire (Health Pass) or Passe Vaccinal (Vaccine Pass). However, it does maintain the possibility of imposing a ‘certificat sanitaire de voyage’ on travellers, which would require travellers to France over the age of 12 to take a pre-departure Covid test regardless of their vaccination status. It’s important to note that there are no current plans to introduce this – the bill simply allows the government the power to implement it if the situation worsens.
The bill also strips the government of its power to reimpose mask-wearing requirements on the general public. However, medical facilities will still be able to set their own rules on wearing masks for patients and visitors.
3. Covid-Related Travel Restrictions Lifted
The end of the state of emergency and the introduction of the loi sanitaire also means some key changes for travellers. As of yesterday (August 1st), there are no longer any Covid-related restrictions or entry requirements for foreign visitors to France.
That means that all travellers arriving in France from any country will no longer need to provide a vaccination certificate, an essential reason for travel, an attestation of good health, or a negative Covid test. Essentially, there will be no additional requirements for entering the country to what was required pre-pandemic (although this HAS of course changed for British travellers, so read our Post-Brexit Travel Checklist to be sure!).
As mentioned above, the government retains the right to reinstate testing in the event of a worsening national health situation or the emergence of a new variant of Covid, so we always advise double-checking the official rules prior to travel, which you can do here.
If you are travelling to or returning to another country from France, remember that you will still need to follow the requirements set out by your destination country. Airlines also retain the right to impose mask-wearing rules on passengers, so it is important to check the rules with your flight provider prior to travel.
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