While Bastille Day celebrations get underway in France, there’s still concern about a fourth wave of Covid and new health measures are being put in place to keep the situation under control. Here are the four French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Bastille Day
Tomorrow (July 14th) is France’s Fête Nationale (National Day), better known as Bastille Day to anglophones, which means those of us in France will enjoy a mid-week jour férié (bank holiday). Fireworks displays and festivities will be taking place around the country, but the biggest celebrations are in Paris. 2021 sees the return of the traditional Bastille Day military parade along Paris’ Champs-Élysées, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The parade kicks off at 10am, followed by an airshow at 10.30am, and an evening concert and fireworks display on the Champs de Mars by the Eiffel Tower. If you’re attending the celebrations, remember you will need your Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass) showing proof of a negative Covid test or vaccination.
2. Macron Addresses the Nation
In last week’s News Digest we discussed the growing concerns of a fourth wave of Covid, spurred by the spread of the Delta variant, and the latest Covid figures show that case numbers are beginning to rise again. Last night (July 12th), French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to lay out measures against the threat, which included some changes to current health and travel regulations (more about that in a moment).
Along with encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, Macron also announced that from Sept 15th vaccinations would become compulsory for all healthcare workers and carers. This includes all those who work or volunteer at hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, and establishments for the elderly, people with disabilities, or other vulnerable people. Workers who opt not to get vaccinated will not be able to work and will not be paid.
While Macron insisted that compulsory vaccinations for the general population are not currently on the agenda, he didn’t rule out the possibility. “I am making the choice to trust, and I am solemnly calling upon all our fellow citizens who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said.
3. Health Passport Extensions
Another key point made in Macron’s speech was the extension of France’s Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass), which is currently a requirement to enter all large events, sports matches, and festivals. From July 21st, the pass will now be required to enter cultural venues including cinemas, theatres, and museums. From August, you will also need the pass to enter bars, cafés, and restaurants, as well as to use long-distance coach and train services, and to enter hospitals and nursing homes.
The Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass) is available on France’s TousAntiCovid app — scan the QR code of your vaccination or Covid test certificate to activate it. Vaccines are now available for everyone over the age of 12 and can be booked online at Doctolib or through your médecin traitant.
4. Travel Updates
There was some good news for British travellers this week when it was announced that from July 19th, there will no longer be a requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to quarantine when returning from amber countries such as France. This rule has not yet been extended to British nationals resident in France who wish to visit their relatives in the UK, but there is hope that this will soon change. Read our article on Travel Between France and the UK for the latest updates.
In other travel news, Macron’s speech also mentioned a tightening of border checks and stricter enforcement of quarantines for unvaccinated travellers. He also confirmed that PCR Covid tests for non-medical reasons (i.e. tests taken for travel purposes or entrance to an event) will be payable for French residents from autumn. Tests for those with Covid symptoms or contact cases will remain free.
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