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COVID-19

EU urges governments to scrap travel restrictions for couples

The EU Commission has called on governments to allow couples separated by coronavirus travel restrictions to reunite, following five months of separation for many in cross-border relationships.

EU urges governments to scrap travel restrictions for couples
Many cross-border couples have been kept apart by the pandemic for nearly half a year. File photo: Văn Thắng/Pexels

“During the last meeting, yesterday, we raised an issue directly affecting many people, namely excluding unmarried partners of European citizens and residents from the travel restriction into the EU,” said a spokesperson for the commission, Adalbert Jahnz, at a press conference.  

“We will continue to call on all member states to allow the entry of people in duly attested relationships with European citizens and residents without delay.”

Currently, it's up to each country to decide on exemptions to the EU entry ban, and the spokesperson said the commission had repeatedly encouraged member states to exempt unmarried partners of citizens and residents.

But only seven EU/EEA countries (Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland), have exempted unmarried partners from the ban, with most only allowing spouses to enter the country from outside the EU.

In Sweden, the rules are complex, with the government saying unmarried partners of Swedish citizens and residents can enter the country, but only if they can prove they've met in person and that they intend to marry or enter a common-law relationship with their partner.

Across the world, long-distance couples have campaigned under the slogans #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential, calling on governments to make allowances for those in serious relationships.

Member comments

  1. Let’s hope legislators and officials move quickly to take positive actions towards remediating this matter.

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules will relax in France as the country ends compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes will take effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that will begin in February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.

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