France relaxes summer travel rules


Paris: France on Friday unveiled a color-coded map featuring streamlined entry protocols for the summer travel season, with restrictions lifted for EU residents while visitors from Britain and the United States will need a negative Covid test even if they are vaccinated.

From June 9, EU residents will no longer need a compelling reason to come to France, typically the world’s number one tourist destination, and only unvaccinated visitors will need to provide a recent antigen test or PCR negative.

The relaxed rules also apply to seven countries deemed “green”: Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore. The plan to start lifting border controls could be a boon to France’s crucial tourism industry as the country emerges from its third coronavirus shutdown.

“We must reconcile freedom of mobility and the need for security,” Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told BFM. “Nothing would be worse than stepping into a new wave of Covid because we haven’t been careful enough,” he said.

The news will be a relief for the tourism industry, which feared that coronavirus tests that were free in France but could cost 100 euros ($ 120) or more in some countries would deter foreign visitors.

From July 1, France will also recognize a European “health pass” proving vaccination against the coronavirus which allows movement inside the block, according to updated guidelines published by the government on Friday.

Last month, France announced an investment of 10 million euros in a campaign to woo European visitors this summer. But travel to and from much of the rest of the world where the virus is still actively circulating will remain subject to tighter controls.

In “orange” areas including Britain, North America and most of Asia and Africa, even travelers vaccinated in France will still have to produce a recent negative Covid test, but they don’t will have more to justify compelling reasons to surrender. For unvaccinated people arriving from the orange zones, however, only essential travel such as medical or family emergencies will be allowed, the government said, and a seven-day self-quarantine will be imposed.

Asked why testing will be required even for vaccinated U.S. visitors, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said the problem was the lack of standardized digital evidence. “They vaccinated a lot of people but they didn’t digitize it – when you get vaccinated you often only get a sheet of paper,” Djebbari told CNews TV.

“We are negotiating with them, and the goal is always to open up to North America, Canada and the United States, and parts of Africa,” he said, adding that ‘he hoped to have results in the coming weeks.

Sixteen countries will remain largely banned due to a worrying increase in coronavirus variants which are more contagious or serious and may prove to be less responsive to the four vaccines authorized in Europe.

They include India, Turkey, South Africa, and much of South America, including Brazil. Travelers from these countries will be required to provide negative Covid-19 tests, whether or not they are vaccinated, and will be required to self-quarantine for seven to 10 days upon arrival.

Meanwhile, Spain said on Friday it wanted to offer Covid-19 vaccines to anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 before the start of the school year in September. The plan is to vaccinate 12 to 17 year olds “about two weeks before” the start of the new school year in September, she said.

The European Medicines Agency last week approved the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds, the first vaccine to get the green light for children in the EU.


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