Coronavirus: what is the current situation in France?
PUBLISHED: 11:58 15 January 2021 | UPDATED: 11:58 15 January 2021
Find out the latest travel advice surrounding Covid-19 and how it will affect your travel to France
The Covid-19 situation in France is rapidly evolving. Keep track of developments in our timeline belown and find out what to expect if you’re planning to visit France soon here. The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has useful information about the virus for visitors to France in English. There is even more information on the French government’s website (in French).
- The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to France (including Corsica). From Saturday 15 August, UK visitors to France are no longer exempt from quarantine measures on their return to the UK.
- An 8pm-6am curfew is currently imposed, meaning people must stay at home between these hours apart from essential reasons. In 15 departments (see below), the curfew will be from 6pm-6am.
- Shops and services are currently open. From 15 December, it was hoped cinemas and museums would open, but they will remain shut for the foreseeable future. Restaurants will remain shut until at least January.
- Working from home is encouraged wherever possible.
- Children aged six and over will now have to wear masks at school.
- All travellers arriving in France will be tested for Covid-19.
- Lateral flow tests will no longer be valid for travellers arriving in France from non-EU countries from 18 January.
14 January, 2021
Prime Minister Jean Castex addresses the nation at 6pm French time to update the public on coronavirus restrictions in France. A 6pm curfew will be in effect nationwide for at least 15 days, but a full lockdown will not be implemented yet. From 18 January, the quick lateral flow tests will no longer be valid for travellers arriving in France from non-EU countries. Also from 18 January, high-risk people will also be offered the Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of age.
7 January, 2021
French ski lifts were set to reopen today, but this has now been pushed back by a least a week.
4 January, 2021
The planned reopening of cinemas and museums has been postponed from 7 January for the foreseeable future. Children return to schools as usual today.
A curfew from 6pm-6am has been introduced in 15 departments. These are: Vosges, Marne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Saone-et-Loire, Meuse, Ardennes, Haute-Saône, Territoire de Belfort, Doubs, Jura, Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-Maritimes.
France has blocked arrivals from the UK to France for 48 hours following the discovery of a mutant strain of coronavirus in the UK. Flights from the UK to France have been suspended and UK truckers are being told to avoid the ports.
France won’t return to normal until next autumn, a French scientific advisor has warned. Jean-Francois Delfraissy explained to TV station BFM that France’s vaccine capabilities would mean that the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine would be spread out across 2021.
President Macron has tested positive for Covid-19 and has begun a week of self-isolation.
From tomorrow, France will relax more of its strict coronavirus lockdown measures, Museums and cinemas were set to reopen, but this is now going to happen in 2021 instead, along with restaurants. An 8pm curfew will be imposed, although it will not be enforced on Christmas Eve - but it will be in place on New Year’s Eve. Families will be able to celebrate Christmas together, but no more than six adults are allowed to be together.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is set to address the French public tonight at 6pm French time regarding the current coronavirus restrictions in France. The original plan was for France to enter a second stage in the lifting of the confinement from 15 December if case numbers improve, and Prime Minister Castex is hoped to provide an update on this.
3 December France’s coronavirus vaccine will be free of charge. One million people are set to be given the vaccine in January.
France is stopping its skiers for venturing abroad to the slopes by introducing random border checks.
28 November The first stage of the relaxation of France’s coronavirus lockdown begins today, with shops and hairdressers welcoming limited numbers of customers. Shops will be allowed to open until 9pm to allow for more customers despite limits of numbers at any one time. Hospitality venues remain closed.
A three-step easing of France’s lockdown will begin from Saturday (28 November), President Emmanuel Macron has told the French people. That means more shops can open and people can travel further for leisure - you can travel within 20km of your home for three hours for exercise. The attestation system will remain in place, however, and working from home is still encouraged. From 15 December, more places will be able to open like cinemas and museums. Unfortunately for the hospitality sector, restaurants and cafes are set to reopen on 20 January.
From 15 December, when holiday travel will be allowed, there will be a curfew in place between 9pm and 7pm. However, there will be a temporary easing of restrictions between 24-31 December during the festive period.
The first vaccinations for the most vulnerable are hoped to take place at the end of December or early January, but they won’t be made compulsory.
Ski resorts do not look like they will be able to welcome guests until after the festive season.
France has now surpassed two million Covid-19 cases, announces Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon.
12 November In a press conference, French Prime Minister Jean Castex tells the French public that any loosening of lockdown measures after 1 December would be ‘strictly limited’ to certain businesses. The likes of bars, restaurants and sports halls would not see restrictions lifted. Castex said that one in four deaths in France were now due to the coronavirus.
9 November While France’s new coronavirus cases rates were down on Monday, as usual at the beginning of the week, French health chief Jérôme Salomon warned that the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic was yet to come, reports France 24.
5 November Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced further restrictions in Paris to combat the spread of coronavirus after some citizens were not “playing by the rules of the game”. The new measures include takeaways having to close at 10pm.
The national lockdown has begun and people will need to carry one of three documents when they leave their home (please see them here). There is the attestation de déplacement, if you’re leaving your home for exercise, for example; the justificatif de déplacement professionnel, if you’re on essential work; and the justificatif de déplacement scolaire, that students will need to carry.
In his televised address, President Macron announced that France will go into a second national lockdown from Friday 30th October, lasting until at least the end of November. Non-essential businesses will close, although factories and schools will remain open. As with the first lockdown in the spring, people will need to fill in a form to leave their home and will only be allowed to do so to buy essential goods, for emergencies, for one hour’s worth of exercise or for essential work. Travel between regions will be banned.
28 October After France records its highest single-day death toll since April, President Macron is set to announce new anti-Covid-19 measures in a television address at 8pm French time tonight.
27 October France records its highest single-day coronavirus death toll since April, with 523 more deaths from the virus.
23 October France’s curfew scheme aimed at combating the spread of coronavirus has now been extended to 38 more departments and will be in place for six weeks. The move comes as the country announced a record 41,622 new cases. The 21:00 to 06:00 curfew will come into force at midnight on Friday,
21 October President Macron’s wife Bridget has gone into self-isolation after coming into contact with somebody later diagnosed with Covid-19. It is not yet clear if the President will also have to self-isolate.
20 October Once again the number of daily coronavirus cases in France has risen to above 20,000 after a dip to around 13,000 last week. If this trend continues, France may reach the one million cases mark by the end of this week or the beginning of next.
Airport testing could be rolled out in France by the end of October, said transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari on CNews television. The rapid antigen tests could be given to all departing international passengers.
A night-time curfew has been imposed in Paris and eight other French cities in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. The 9pm-6am curfew will take effect on Saturday 17 October and last at least four weeks, said President Macron in a televised address yesterday. The other affected cities are Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Toulouse, Montpellier and Grenoble. Only essential trips outside during these hours will be permitted and anyone found in breach of the new rules without an acceptable excuse will be fined €135.
12 October Montpellier and Toulouse have also had their alert levels raised to maximum following rises in cases in the two southern cities.
8 October Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne are set to go on maximum alert for coronavirus from Saturday (10 October), Health Minister Olivier Véran has announced. The news comes as Covid cases top 18,000 for a second day in France. Toulouse and Montpellier are also at risk of being moved to the maximum alert level.
5 October From tomorrow (Tuesday 6th October) Paris is to shut all bars, gyms and swimming pools for two weeks in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus. The move comes as the city’s coronavirus alert status is raised to maximum. Chief police Didier Lallement described the new rules as “braking measures” to help curb the spread of the virus.
1 October Take-up of France’s Covid app has been reported as poor, with just 3 million downloads in l’Hexagone compared to the UK app getting 12 million and the German app 18 million, the Guardian reports.
30 September France has no plans for another national lockdown, the French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has said.
It looks like Paris may be going the same way as Marseille in its coronavirus numbers and there is the risk it could be placed on ‘alerte maximum’ with stricter lockdown rules.
27 September There will be no preventative lockdown ahead of Christmas to stop a surge in the virus, according to France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran.
The Health Minister Olivier Véran has announced new measures to combat coronavirus in France. The measures particularly concern the southern city of Marseille and the island of Guadeloupe, both of which have been placed in a ‘maximum alert’ zone. From Saturday, bars and restaurants in the two places will have to close. An ‘enhanced alert’ has been placed on other major cities in France where the rate of circulation is high, including Paris, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse, In these zones, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm and public and private gatherings must not have more than 10 people.
23 September The French government is set to introduce new nationwide restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus in France. Health Minister Olivier Véran is set to make an announcement at 7pm French time tonight. According to French news sources, the measures could include the partial or total closure of bars, and restrictions on visits to care homes.
There are now 55 coronavirus ‘red zones’ in France. Find out which departments are classed as ‘zones rouges’ in this interactive map.
France records an increase in the number of people with coronavirus in intensive care for the 20th day running.
Meanwhile, as French students return to university, 12 coronavirus clusters have been detected in French universities this month.
New measures to combat coronavirus have been introduced in Bordeaux and Marseille, including a ban on more than 10 people gathering in public parks, along the riverbank and on beaches in Bordeaux. Other measures in Bordeaux include a ban on large gatherings over 1,000 (including concerts and sports events) and dancing in public venues is also forbidden. In Marseille, the regional government has banned student parties and there is also a 1,000-person public event limit.
France may reduce the quarantine period for people with confirmed coronavirus from 14 days to five days, The Times reports.
The country also reported yesterday its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the outbreak began.
The French government has put seven more departments on alert as Covid-19 rates increase in certain parts of the country. There are now 28 ‘red zone’ departments.
Meanwhile, Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for coronavirus. However, all Tour riders have returned negative results, so the race continues.
France has recorded Europe’s highest daily increase in coronavirus cases. Furthermore, 22 schools in mainland and overseas France have been closed due to outbreaks.
France has continued to see its coronavirus cases grow. On Wednesday, just over 7,000 cases were reported in 24 hours, with 4,632 people in hospital with the illness.
In Paris and some other French cities, wearing a facemask in public is now mandatory. The rule applies to pedestrians but cyclists and joggers will be able to go without facemasks.
27 August France’s coronavirus rate has quadrupled in a month, with a post-lockdown record of 6,111 cases reported in one day.
A naturist resort in the south of France has been hit with an outbreak of coronavirus, with 100 holidaymakers at the Cap d’Adge so far testing positive for coronavirus. It has also been reported that coronavirus in France is circulating four times as much among under-40s as it is among over-65s.
Today, France confirmed that new coronavirus cases have increased by 1,000 over the past 24 hours to reach 4,771. This is the first time more than 4,000 daily cases has been recorded since May. Mask-wearing is now mandatory in the cities of Paris, St Etienne, Nice and Toulouse. The Education Minister has ruled out postponing the new school year which starts on 1 September.
France has reported 3,776 new coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period, its biggest daily increase since 6 May. Authorities have begun tightening restrictions to curb the spread. In Toulouse, masks must be worn throughout the city from Friday 21 August, while from 1 September workers across the country will be required to wear face masks in workplaces.
The number of new Covid-19 infections in France rose above 3,000 on Sunday for the second day in a row but dropped significantly on Monday to 493. However the number of hospital admissions is still rising. France’s cumulative total of infections has now reached 219,029. Paris and Marseille have both been declared highly active ‘red zones’ and today the government is expected to propose that face masks be compulsory in shared indoor workspaces and offices as part of efforts to prevent a second wave.
The UK has imposed quarantine measures on France that will come into play at 4am Saturday. The new rules mean that anyone returning to the UK from France will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period. It is estimated that there are currently around 400,000 British holidaymakers in France.
Today the UK government is expected to decide whether or not to add France to its quarantine list. Paris has suggested that it will impose a reciprocal quarantine arrangement for travellers going to France from the UK if the UK does impose quarantine.
Meanwhile, air passengers have been reminded that reusable masks are not allowed on French flights.
France is ‘days away’ from being added to the UK’s quarantine list, The Telegraph reports.
Today, France has recorded a record two-month high in coronavirus cases, with 1,695 new cases in 24 hours. In Toulouse, people will be expected to wear facemasks even in the street, and other cities are set to implement the same rule.
Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris has implemented compulsory Covid-19 testing for travellers arriving from 16 countries including the US, South Africa and Turkey.
A report suggests France could lose control of Covid-19 at any point, saying that a second lockdown was highly likely this autumn or winter.
The French Prime Minister has stated that the country could be at risk of a second lockdown if cases continue to rise.
Since Monday, masks have been compulsory in all enclosed public places in France, including shops. There have been increases in the coronavirus reproduction rate in some parts of France including Brittany and Vosges.
16 July Spikes in coronavirus cases have been reported in Paris and in the north-western department of Mayenne. The wearing of facemasks is now compulsory in Laval, the prefecture.
President Macron is expected to make an announcement regarding the obligatory use of facemasks in enclosed public spaces in France. This could come in force by 1 August.
With the cancellation of the Eurostar ski service, a campaign has been launched to save it - find out more information here.
French health authorities are currently investigating 68 clusters of Covid-19 across the country.
The Louvre in Paris has reopened today after months of closure with strict safety measures in place.
The UK government has announced that from 10 July 2020, people arriving in England from France will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days as France has been included in the UK government’s travel corridors list.
Currently, there has been no confirmation whether people arriving in France from the UK will still need to self-isolate.
Eurostar has cancelled its routes to the South of France until 2022, meaning no direct trains from London to Marseille, Avignon or Lyon.
The UK government is yet to confirm its ‘air bridge’ offerings and continues to advise against all but essential international travel.
There is still no official confirmation of an ‘air bridge’ between the UK and France that would remove the need for quarantine, despite suggestions it would be announced today.
Anticipating a futher wave of Covid-19, French Health Minister has told Le Monde that a large-scale coronavirus testing scheme will be launched to identify at-risk areas.
Reports suggest that an air bridge between France and the UK may soon be established, meaning there would be no need for quarantine for travellers between the two nations. More information on this is expected to be announced on Monday. Today, the Eiffel Tower reopened for the first time in three months, with stringent safety and hygiene measures in place to protect visitors.
France’s contact-tracing app has got off to a slow start, with just 68 positive Covid-19 cases logged on it in the past three weeks since its launch.
A second wave of Covid-19 in the autumn is “extremely likely”, says France’s Conseil Scientifique.
Today all pupils up to the age of 15 will be going back to school in France for the last two weeks of term, although some worried parents will continue to keep their children at home.
President Macron visits Downing Street to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s famous wartime broadcast to France on the BBC in 1940. It is expected that Macron and Prime Minister Johnson will discuss the current quarantine and the possibility of reducing or eliminating it.
Cafe culture has properly resumed in Paris since President Macron’s announcement on Sunday that the city’s restaurants could fully reopen. Until now, cafes were only able to have outside tables.
In President Macron’s speech on Sunday night, he announced yet more easing of the coronavirus restrictions in France. The greatest change will be that travel to other European countries with open borders will be allowed (although there is still a 14-day quarantine arrangement in place for travellers from the UK). Other changes include people being able to visit family in nursing homes and all schools apart from high schools reopening on 22 June. All of mainland France is in the ‘green’ zone of deconfinement, although its overseas territories of Mayotte and French Guiana are still in the ‘orange’ zone.
Despite the easing of the lockdown, coronavirus cases in France have continued to fall.
President Macron is set to address France on Sunday in his fourth televised address since the coronavirus crisis began. France is currently in Phase 2 of the lockdown until 22 June, so it is expected that the president’s address may outline what will happen in the next phase. It is also presumed that the president will discuss international travel, as France is set to reopen its borders for travel within Europe from 15 June.
The EU could reopen its borders to travellers from beyond the bloc from 1 July. Some EU countries such as Greece plan to open their borders to certain non-EU countries from 15 June.
Meanwhile, France’s contact-tracing app has topped one million downloads.
The French economy will only revert to pre-crisis levels in 2022, Reuters report. There are fears unemployment could climb to a new record of 11.8% in 2021.
Travellers arriving in France from the UK, whatever their nationality, must now undergo a 14-day voluntary quarantine. Among those exempt from the measures are truck drivers, diplomatic staff and foreign health staff helping to fight the coronavirus. Travel to France from the UK is still on a strictly necessary basis, and an attestation is still needed. For more about the quarantine, visit the Consulate General of France in London’s website.
The French death toll is now at its lowest since mid-March.
France has said that it now has the coronavirus pandemic ‘under control’.
The country awaits further information about how its borders with other European countries may be relaxed after rumours yesterday of the Franco-Spanish border reopening later this month.
The Franco-Spanish border may reopen on 22 June, reports have suggested. The Spanish tourism minister has also suggested that those travelling from France will not need to undergo the 14-day quarantine.
France’s new contact-tracing app has been downloaded 600,000 times since it became available on 2 June. Find out how the app works here.
Today, the next stage of lockdown easing measures come into force in France. This will see the reopening of cafes and restaurants in green zones, plus the lifting of the 100km travel limit. Residents will also be able to go to the gym, go to a museum or art gallery (wearing a mask), and go to the beach. Cross-border travel is still not encouraged.
A map released by the French governments splits every department in the country into red, yellow and green, depending on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. The colours determine how the lockdown will be lifted in each area. Anyone caught without a face mask on French public transport, including buses, planes and trains, after deconfinement may receive a fine of up to €135, junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tells Le Parisien.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announces that most of the measures implemented to help combat the coronavirus will be cautiously lifted in France. While strict hygiene and social distancing methods will remain in place, life will return to some level of normality. Most of France has now been designated as a green zone, although Paris and its surroundings are currently orange. Among the new opening are parks and gardens in Paris, plus elsewhere in France people will be able to return to restaurants, gyms and beaches come 2 June.
From today, the French government has implemented a voluntary 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving from outside the EU and certain other countries. However, the government has also stressed that even travellers from countries that belong to the EU may be asked to undergo the quarantine if they have introduced such measures in their own countries. For example, both Spain and the UK have said they will implement quarantines for new arrivals, so the French government has put in place the quarantine for arrivals from those countries as a reciprocal measure.
Exceptions to the 14-day quarantine for visitors include lorry drivers, train crew, diplomats and people with compelling family reasons such as the funeral of a close relative. An attestation is still needed for travel from abroad.
Find out more on the French government’s website.
Brits are still strongly advised against all but essential travel to France by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.