Coronavirus: what is the current situation in France?

PUBLISHED: 09:34 15 October 2020

Find out what measures France is imposing to combat coronavirus. Pic: Scaliger/Getty

Find out what measures France is imposing to combat coronavirus. Pic: Scaliger/Getty


Find out the latest travel advice surrounding the coronavirus and how it will affect your travel to France

The coronavirus 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 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, and France is expected to introduce reciprocal quarantine arrangements.

- Wearing masks in enclosed public spaces is now compulsory for anyone aged 11 or over. This includes cinemas, hotels, restaurants, museums, shops and train stations. In some cities masks are required on public streets. Wearing masks on public transport is also still compulsory, and reusable masks are not allowed on French flights.

- Travellers in France from specified countries including the Canada and New Zealand no longer need to self-isolate on arrival, demonstrate their travel is essential, or carry a self-attestation. Travel from other countries which aren’t listed by the French government, including from the US, is still on an essential basis only and supporting documents will need to be provided.

- Departments in which coronavirus cases are rising can now be considered ‘red zones’ or even ‘maximum alert zones’, which gives authorities permission to increase anti-coronavirus measures.

15 October

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.

29 September

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.

24 September

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.

19 September

There are now 55 coronavirus ‘red zones’ in France. Find out which departments are classed as ‘zones rouges’ in this interactive map.

17 September

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.

15 September

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.

9 September

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.

8 September

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.

4 September

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.

2 September

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.

28 August

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.

25 August

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.

21 August

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.

20 August

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.

18 August

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.

14 August

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.

13 August

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.

10 August

France is ‘days away’ from being added to the UK’s quarantine list, The Telegraph reports.

6 August

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.

5 August

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.

4 August

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.

28 July

The French Prime Minister has stated that the country could be at risk of a second lockdown if cases continue to rise.

22 July

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.

14 July

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.

10 July

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.

6 July

The Louvre in Paris has reopened today after months of closure with strict safety measures in place.

3 July

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.

2 July

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.

29 June

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.

26 June

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.

25 June

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.

24 June

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.

23 June

A second wave of Covid-19 in the autumn is “extremely likely”, says France’s Conseil Scientifique.

22 June

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.

18 June

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.

16 June

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.

15 June

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.

12 June

Despite the easing of the lockdown, coronavirus cases in France have continued to fall.

11 June

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.

10 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.

9 June

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.

8 June

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.

5 June

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.

4 June

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.

3 June

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.

2 June

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.

31 May 2020

The French transport minister has announced that a current limit on the number of train seats being sold by SNCF will be lifted. Currently just 1 in 2 seats are being sold, but from mid-June SNCF will be able to sell 100% of tickets.

30 May 2020

Today Paris’ green spaces reopened for the first time since lockdown was introduced. Many of the city’s residents flocked to the myriad parks and gardens to enjoy a picnic.

28 May 2020 
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.

Brits are still strongly advised against all but essential travel to France by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

27 May 2020

Tomorrow, the French prime minister will address the nation to outline the second phase of deconfinement, which will commence on 2 June. The map released before the first stage of deconfinement dividing the country into red and green zones is set to be updated according to the latest developments of the virus.

It is hoped that the prime minister will explain more about the possible reopening of hospitality establishments such as restaurants and bars. Beaches throughout the country are set to reopen, as are swimming pools and sports halls. More information to come tomorrow.

26 May 2020

Tennis fans may be pleased to hear that there is still hope for the 2020 French Open to take place this year. The event was set to take place this week but has been postponed to September. Director Guy Forget told the BBC that things were looking “positive”.

25 May 2020

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.

24 May 2020

Today marks the smallest daily increase of COVID-19 deaths and infections in France since the lockdown began.

22 May 2020

France’s first beach to reopen for sunbathing (others are open for exercise) has been forced to implement a booking system. Visitors to La Grande-Motte must book three-hour slots two days in advance.

21 May 2020

Easyjet are to resume some domestic flights, both in the UK and in France, from 15 June. The planes will undergo extra cleaning and disinfection routines, and no food will be provided to travellers on board. The fleet has been grounded since March and the firm’s CEO Johan Lundgren told the BBC these were “small and carefully planned steps”.

19 May 2020

France has seen a small resurgence in coronavirus cases linked to the reopening of schools, with 70 cases linked to it.
The country has also been ordered to lift its blanket ban on worshipping in the next eight days.

18 May 2020

It is yet to be confirmed which people travelling between the UK and France will have to self-isolate, with Sky reporting that lorry drivers may be the first to travel between the two countries without having to quarantine.

The reopening of schools has not triggered a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in France.

15 May 2020

The coronavirus death toll is back on the up in France as the global death toll exceeds 300,000.

14 May 2020

Cafes and restaurants in France’s ‘green zones’ should be able to reopen from 2 June, the French Prime Minister has announced. He has also said that French people will be able to go on holiday this summer - but only within France or its overseas regions.

The French government is to launch a historic support plan for those in the country’s tourism industry, one of the worst affected sectors during the pandemic. Just over a billion euros will go towards helping struggling hospitality businesses and tourist attractions.

The UK government has now announced that French visitors to the UK will be subject to the 14-day quarantine that it has proposed for airline passengers. Originally, they were to be exempt.

13 May 2020

The number of French patients in hospital or intensive care with coronavirus continues to drop.

Coronavirus is threatening the existence of some French bookshops, hitting profit margins.

12 May 2020

Thousands of businesses have begun to reopen as the lockdown in France is eased. However, as crowds have gathered to toast the end of some restrictions, a ban has been placed on drinking by the Seine and the Canal Saint-Martin.

11 May 2020

Today begins the gradual process of France’s lockdown measures being eased. The measures include trips of up to 100km from home without any reason needing to be given; outdoor exercise being longer than one hour; and some beaches may even reopen. Find out more in our article.

In other news, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that French nationals will be exempt from plans for airline passengers arriving in the UK to be quarantined for 14 days.

10 May 2020

Although improved cycling facilities were already a key part of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo’s manifesto, there is now even more of a focus on getting things up and running in light of the current pandemic. The government is offering free bike repairs of up to €50 at registered mechanics, as well as more training for those who’ve spent time out of the saddle, in a bid to encourage more to adopt this eco-friendly mode of transport.

9 May 2020

Video surveillance cameras will be used to monitor how well French citizens are responding to calls to wear masks and carry out social distancing.

7 May 2020

Preparations for the effect of deconfinement on the Paris Metro have been put in place, with one million stickers placed around the network to remind commuters to keep their distance and wash their hands. Stickers have also been placed on seats on the trains themselves to remind travellers to leave space between them.

Later today, the final map dividing the departments into different zones depending on the severity of the outbreak will be released - see it here when it is published. The map will determine how the lockdown will be lifted in each of the departments, depending on which colour it is shaded.

6 May 2020

The map dividing France into green and red zones, determining the serious of the outbreak and how the lockdown will be lifted, continues to be updated - see it here. A final map will be launched tomorrow, showing for certain how the lockdown measures will be lifted in each of the zones.

5 May 2020

The BBC are reporting that France’s first case of coronavirus occurred in December in a man who had not visited China.

4 May 2020

A proposed 14-day quarantine period for any new arrivals to France will not affect travellers from the EU and the UK, it has been announced. However, only essential travel is still being advised.

3 May 2020

It is now obligatory for passengers on the Eurostar to wear protective face masks.

2 May 2020

Ryanair has announced it will continue to run a skeleton service until July.

Meanwhile, a cat near Paris has become the first in France to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

1 May 2020

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. View the map here.

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.

30 April 2020

France has plunged into a recession as its GDP falls by a record 5.8 per cent in the first quarter.

29 April 2020

The public will be able to buy face masks in supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as on a special online platform.

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