A vast collective sigh of relief is being expressed throughout France as of Wednesday, June 9th, the day on which the French government implemented the third step of its four-stage plan for completely lifting its COVID-19 restrictions that were imposed at the end of March. At that time the daily infections rate exceeded 50,000 new infections per day throughout France, and ICU bed occupation was approaching 7,000 cases, the worst level of the entire pandemic. It is refreshing to report that, so far, the plan’s projected implementation, which was first announced in early April, has been remarkably on schedule.
We first encountered contradictory reports on the new rules for visitors wishing to visit France in this third step, depending on the source of the news reporting them, so we have taken pains to run them down and resolve them and are glad to now report a definitive version of the new rules, which you can see at a website maintained by the French government, bearing the title “I am Currently Abroad, Welcome to France” https://www.welcometofrance.com/en/je-suis-a-letranger. If you plan to visit France, you can find the rules that will apply to you in it, no matter where in the world you may be located. Some detail is provided below.
As of Wednesday, in-door dining and drinking establishments throughout France re-opened for business, at half capacity, and service at open-air facilities and terraces began operating at 100% capacity. By June 19, museums, cinemas, exhibition halls and sporting events will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. We are now anticipating that at the end this month the fourth and last step of the French government program for opening up from COVID-19 restrictions will be implemented, when it is expected that all of the remaining restrictions will be eliminated. One possible exception will be the case of nightclubs, which have so far remained closed.
Simultaneously since Wednesday, the night curfew has been pushed back from 9 pm to 11 pm, and it is expected that it will be eliminated altogether at the end of this month. National statistics for new COVID-19 infections have now fallen to about 5,000 per day and ICU bed occupation is in the 2,300 vicinity. These remarkable results are largely due to an invigorated French vaccination program that has vaccinated (and continues to vaccinate) about half a million French citizens and residents per day, and so far has vaccinated nearly 29 million persons, about 43% of the French population, with at least one vaccination.
The current positive trend is also due to fairly consistent support for the lock-down regulations throughout the French population, which in particular has been noticeably more cooperative with requested social distancing requirements. French president Emmanuel Macron thanked the French population for its support and compliance with the government’s restrictions, to which he attributed the remarkable turn-around.
It is also true that the weather in France has turned warmer, and that has no doubt enhanced the improving current trends. Conversely, we can expect the improving trends to be challenged anew in the fall, when temperatures once again start to fall. Nevertheless, by then even more of the French population will have been vaccinated, and we can reasonably expect that there will be an even greater resistance in the French population to the spread of the virus and its new variants.
The new rules governing admission into France for visitors from around the world are determined by a separation of the world into three regions: red, green and orange. All travelers entering France, no matter what the color of the region from which they are traveling, will be required to carry with them a sworn statement stating that the person entering has no symptoms of COVID-19 infection and is not aware of any contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days .
Red regions are those where the virus is spreading and perceived to be out of control. It currently includes Brazil, South Africa and India, among others. Visitors from those countries are not allowed entry to France without a compelling reason for them to do so and they must undergo quarantine to enter, as well as provide proof of full vaccination with European Union-approved vaccines against COVID-19, plus a negative antigen test within 72 hours of entry.
Green regions of the world are those where the virus is not spreading and therefore the virus is perceived to be under control. They include the other European Union countries, as well as Singapore, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and some others. Travelers from those countries can enter France upon presentation of a certificate showing that they have been fully vaccinated with European Union-approved vaccines against the virus. They do not need to present a compelling reason for visiting France, nor do they need to provide a negative recent antigen test, nor do they need to undergo quarantine upon entry.
The third category of world regions, orange, includes those regions where the virus is present but not spreading and where the virus is therefore perceived to be under control. That is the current category of the USA, Canada and the UK, among others. Travelers from orange sector regions need to provide proof of full vaccination with European Union-approved vaccines, present a negative antigen test performed within 72 hours of entry, but they do not need to provide a compelling reason for visiting France, nor do they have to quarantine upon entry. The EU-approved vaccines are identical with those approved by the US government: Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and Astra Zeneca.
Since most flights from the USA to France entail an overnight, we advise those travelers to schedule their COVID-19 antigen tests in the last 24 to 48 hours prior to arrival in France. It is also widely anticipated that this requirement of proof of a negative COVID-19 test will soon be dropped, but that is not guaranteed, so it must be taken into consideration as a requirement, at least for the time being. For details of how to procure proof of vaccination, click on the link entitled “travel certificate” in the website for which the link is provided above.