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 September 17.
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
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 US and Israel will be added to this list on September 12, which effectively means that unvaccinated travelers from these countries will not be permitted to enter France without an “essential reason.”
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 for seven days.
Any 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.
While France has not been charging foreign tourists from red list countries for PCR and antigen tests taken on arrival, authorities have announced that travelers will be required to pay for these tests from July 9.
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 US will be added to the amber list on September 12, which means that unvaccinated American will not be permitted to enter France without an essential reason.
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.
What’s the Covid situation?
France has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with over seven million cases and 116,508 deaths as of September 17.
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 have since begun to rise again. On August 17, the country registered over 100 deaths from Covid-19 for the first time since June.
More than 92 million vaccination doses have been administered in the country as of September 17, with over 64% of the population fully vaccinated.
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.
The new law, which has sparked protests in the country, only applies to adults at present, but is to be extended to include all those under 12 from September 30.
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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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Tamara Hardingham-Gill contributed to this report