As the summer holidays get underway, there’s more bad news for those hoping to travel to and from the UK, and Macron’s new Health Passport restrictions have been met with resistance in France. Here are the four French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. More Bad News for UK Travellers to France
After announcing in last week’s New Digest that fully vaccinated travellers from the UK will no longer be required to quarantine on return from amber countries such as France, we’re sorry to report that this rule has once again been changed. The UK government issued a statement on July 16th declaring that while this rule still stands for all other amber listed countries, it will now not apply to France.
The official statement says: “While current cases of the Beta variant in France are not high enough to require arrivals to enter managed quarantine [ie. for France to be added to the red travel list], it is important to consider the potential detection and transmission risk in light of the current situation in England.
“As a precautionary measure to protect the gains made in the UK’s vaccination programme, and as the country unlocks, anyone arriving from France to England will continue to quarantine for 10 days from early Monday morning, while we continue to assess the latest data and track prevalence of the Beta variant.”
There was already an uproar from British expats in France over the fact that this ruling applied only to UK residents visiting France (but not French residents wishing to visit family and friends in the UK), and an online petition against this has already received more than 50,000 signatures. Now, understandably, holidaymakers and second-home owners are questioning why it is that France is the only country affected by this rule change.
For the latest on the situation, keep an eye on our Travel Between France and the UK page.
2. Stricter Border Checks on Unvaccinated Travellers from the UK
As the UK tightens its rules on travel to French shores, France has also announced tougher border checks on unvaccinated travellers from the UK, along with Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands, and Greece. All travellers must now present a negative Covid test taken 24 hours before their flight departure time.
However, there’s good news for vaccinated travellers arriving in France from amber or red-listed country (such as the UK). You will now no longer need to take a Covid test, and arrivals from red-listed countries no longer need an essential reason to travel. Another positive announcement is that the EU and France are now recognising the Covishield AstraZeneca vaccine – this previously wasn’t the case and was a worry for the many Brits who had received the Indian-produced vaccine.
See our guide to France’s Traffic Light System for Travel for more details.
3. French Revolt Over Health Pass Rules
French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week the extension of France’s Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass). From tomorrow (July 21st), the pass will be required to enter all cultural venues, including cinemas, theatres, and gyms, and from August, it will be required for all bars, restaurants, shopping centres, and long-distance transport. Essentially, this means that those who are not vaccinated will need to take a Covid test before enjoying any of the above-mentioned activities.
Macron’s announcements have been met with resistance – including protests in Paris and the vandalism of two vaccine centres – although this didn’t stop a record 1.7 million vaccine appointments from being booked in the 24 hours after his speech. The President is undeterred by the resistance, however, stating to those who refuse to get vaccinated: “You cannot have the same rights because you have not taken on the same responsibilities. I don’t consider that taking away people’s freedoms. It is simply a reminder that in a nation, freedom implies responsibility.”
For those resident in France, 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.For UK residents or those who received their vaccine in the UK, you will need to present your NHS Covid Pass instead.
4. Local Laws to Tackle Fourth Wave
The imminent fourth wave of Covid, driven by the spread of the Delta variant, has brought a rapid rise in case numbers in several French regions, most notably in the south and along the west coast – all popular tourist areas where crowds are gathering for the summer holidays. While many national restrictions have been lifted, many local departments are now putting new health measures in place.
In the Pyrénées-Orientales, bars and restaurants in tourist areas now have an 11pm curfew, and masks have once again become mandatory in open-air public spaces. Similar rules are being put in place in parts of Hauts-de-France, Normandy, and Occitanie.
If you’re visiting or holidaying in France, be sure to check local regulations before travelling.
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