Travel within the EU opened up in June and since July 1st visits to France have been possible from outside Europe – but not for everyone.
The EU has opened up its external borders, but only to countries on its regularly revised 'safe' list. The latest installment of the list – updated on July 30th – has 11 countries on it.
So what does this mean for people wishing to visit France?
Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So a non-EU citizen travelling from Germany, for example, would be permitted to enter France because there are no health restrictions on the French-German border.
Secondly, this does not affect non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of France, although they will need to show proof of residency at the border.
Essential travel has been permitted throughout the lockdown and this continues, although the definition of essential travel into the EU is stricter than many countries' individual rules.
So this latest ruling really affects tourists, second home owners and those wishing to visit family and friends in France.
Which countries are on the list?
The EU's list comprises 11 countries; Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China is also provisionally on the list, if reciprocity requirements are met.
Countries with high Covid-19 rates such as the USA, India and Russia are not on the list.
This is the third installment of the list and no new countries have been added but one – Algeria – has been removed. Serbia and Macedonia were removed from the second installment of the list.
Is it a final ruling?
The final decision is down to each country but France has always said that it intends to follow the EU's list and did so for the first two editions of the list.
So while theoretically it could decide to open up its borders to countries not on the list, that seems unlikely at this stage.
In fact France's latest border controls have tightened restrictions not loosened them. People coming into the countries under the 'essential travel' requirement may now be obliged to have a Covid-19 test before being allowed in.
What happens next?
The EU says it will revise its list every two weeks, and the list is largely based on the health situation in individual countries, so how quickly the ban on American tourists is lifted really depends on the evolution of the health situation in the US.
Countries were included on the safe list if the coronavirus outbreak in the country was judged to be the same or better than that EU average. The bar was fixed at 16 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.
Several terminals at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport remain closed. Photo: AFP
What is essential travel?
People who can travel into the European bloc include:
- Citizens of an EU country
- Non EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
- Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
- Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
- Delivery drivers
- Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
- Passengers in transit
- Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
- Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
- Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
- Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad
Find more details on the exemptions here.
France says it wants to welcome international students, with foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying: “In view of the stakes involved in making universities attractive, international students will be allowed to come to France, regardless of their country of origin, and the arrangements for their reception will be facilitated.
“Their applications for visas and residence permits will be given priority.”
So any non-European students hoping to study in France in the coming months don't need to cancel their plans.
People travelling for essential reasons from 16 'high risk' countries are now obliged to have a Covid test before they will be allowed in to France.
Those countries are; the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Panama, Bahrain, Algeria, Brazil, India, Israel, Kuwait, Madagascar, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa and Turkey.
For most countries on the list passengers can take the test either before departure or on arrival in France. Free testing is now available in all French airports.
However people travelling from the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Panama or Bahrain must take the test no more than 72 hours before travelling and present the negative test result at the airport, or they will not be permitted to board the plane.