COVID-19: French Government tightens border controls

COVID-19 – Government steps up measures at borders to limit spread of coronavirus variants of interest – Communiqué issued by the Government

Paris, 17 April 2021

While the epidemic situation is stabilizing in France as a result of the curbing measures introduced two weeks ago and the acceleration of the vaccination campaign, the uncontrolled spread of the virus in some countries, and in particular of several variants of interest which raise fears of a risk of heightened transmissibility or vaccine escape, means control measures must be stepped up on arrivals from those countries.

Since the end of January, travel conditions to France from most countries outside Europe have been strictly regulated: the European area’s external borders have been closed on principle since March 2020, and only French and other European nationals, as well as certain limited categories of people with a compelling reason, have been allowed to travel exceptionally; they must all prove a negative PCR test has been carried out and promise to observe a seven-day period of self-isolation.

Faced with the deteriorating epidemic situation in Brazil, a suspension of flights from that country was declared on Wednesday 14 April. This suspension will be extended until Friday 23 April inclusive, the period necessary for allowing flights to resume, together with additional control measures on arrivals in metropolitan France and French Guiana.

In addition to the provisions already in place, the following measures will therefore apply to people arriving from Brazil from Saturday 24 April onwards:

- the list of reasons and categories of people authorized to travel to France will essentially be restricted only to French nationals, their spouses and children, and to nationals of the European Union or non-EU countries whose main residence is in France;

- the pre-embarkation testing mechanism will be reinforced, with a requirement for a negative PCR test taken under 36 hours earlier (instead of 72), or a negative PCR test taken under 72 hours earlier together with a negative antigen test taken under 24 hours earlier;

- antigen tests will become systematic for arrivals in France, before leaving the airport;

Every person coming from these countries will be placed under a 10-day quarantine period, decided by a prefectural order and involving restricted hours of departure from the place of self-isolation.

A system will be introduced to check, prior to embarkation and then on arrival, that a place of quarantine exists which meets the health requirements, and quarantine-compliance checks will be carried out at the home by the National Police and Gendarmerie, together with increased fines in the event of breaches of self-isolation.

These measures will also apply to people returning from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, where the presence of variants of interest has been observed, even though it has not reached the same levels as observed in Brazil. For these countries, initial measures related to restrictions on entry conditions to France, the requirement to take a test prior to departure, and compliance with a 10-day self-isolation measure will come into force progressively between now and 24 April.

Measures related to carrying out a test and organizing a 10-day quarantine period will also apply to travellers coming from French Guiana. Furthermore, systematic antigen tests will be introduced for journeys from French Guiana to the West Indies.

Finally, all these emergency national measures will be discussed with our European partners at the beginning of the week. In addition to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa, other countries may be affected by these measures, on the basis of the criteria identified by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)./.

Published on 21/04/2021

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