France’s prime minister confirms travel restrictions to end from May 3rd

France's prime minister confirms travel restrictions to end from May 3rd
French Prime Minister Jean Castex in front of a graphic showing the pressure on hospital intensive care wards in France, at the press conference where he confirmed plans to begin progressively reopen closed sectors in May. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / various sources / AFP
The peak of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in France "appears to be behind us", Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday, and travel restrictions within the country will be eased from early next month.

Castex told a press conference there had been a “genuine fall in the circulation of the virus over the last 10 days”, confirming that restrictions confining people to a 10-kilometre radius of their homes would be dropped from May 3rd.

When France was placed into partial lockdown at the start of April it was intended to be a short-term measure to halt the growth of Covid cases and relieve pressure on hospitals.

Although case numbers remain high and some hospitals under severe pressure, the rates have stopped rising and have plateaued, which the government believes to be enough to begin a gradual reopening.

Castex confirmed that, from May 3rd, attestations (permission forms) will no longer be required for outings longer than 10km from the home, and there would be no limit on how far people can travel from home.

However he didn’t give a date for when the nationwide nighttime curfew, that has been in place since December, would end.

“The curfew will be maintained until further notice,” Castex said.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin also laid out the conditions for the strict new quarantine in place from Saturday for arrivals from India, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa as well as the French overseas territory of French Guiana (full details below).

PM Castex also confirmed that further reopening of things like shops and café terraces would be done on a localised basis, because of the wide variation in case numbers between regions of France.

The prime minister said: “We want to begin (easing lockdown) around mid-May. But due to the fragile health situation, it needs to be done progressively.”

He said the reopening “could start with café and bar terraces, certain sporting and cultural activities and certain shops.

“The list is not final, and it could be done through a regionalised framework,” he said.

A fuller timetable will come “in the coming days”, he added. French media have reported that President Emmanuel Macron intends to make another televised announcement to lay out the full timetable.

Primary schools would reopen on Monday April 26th the government confirmed with secondary schools reopening one week later on May 3rd. Although in départements where the virus is still circulating widely such as Paris and the surrounding area only 50 percent of classes in some year groups would return to in-school classes. The other 50 percent of pupils would continue distance learning.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed that string health protocol would remain in place in schools and that classes would close as soon as one Covid case was detected. Some 400,000 Covid tests would be carried out in schools and auto-tests would be made  available to staff and high school students.

There were 5,981 people with coronavirus in intensive care in France on Thursday, official data showed, with the figure to the relief of the authorities flattening out below 6,000 over the last days.

A total of 102,164 people have died in France from the pandemic but, after a slow start, the vaccine campaign is gaining pace with over 13 million people now given at least a first dose.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said that France would begin offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single shot, from Saturday to people aged 55 and over.

It will be the fourth vaccine being offered by France after Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

MAP: Where in France has the lowest Covid cases?

Interior Minister Darmanin confirmed the full details of France’s strictest quarantine measures yet, which will be fully enforced from Saturday for arrivals from the 5 ‘high risk’ countries plus the French overseas département of French Guiana, which borders Brazil

The following measures are in place for all travellers over the age of 11:

  • Anyone travelling from India, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Brazil or French Guiana must get either a PCR test 36 hours before travel OR a PCR test 72 hours before travel followed by a rapid-result antigen test 24 hours before travel
  • Travellers then take another antigen test on arrival in France, and confirm to border guards that they will observe a 10-day quarantine, providing an address where they will be quarantining
  • Police will then check the address provided during the 10 days to ensure the quarantine is being enforced
  • Essential errands may be done only between 10am and 12 noon, anyone not at the address provided outside those hours will be deemed in breach of quarantine and fined
  • Fines range from €1,000 to €1,500

READ ALSO These are the new quarantine rules for arrivals from ‘high risk’ countries


Member comments

  1. Why would you have a grand re-opening if the figures are not even falling ? It doesn’t sound like the public health is the top priority here.

  2. Agreed.

    This does not make sense. School breaks and multiple Public Holidays in May mean school age children and young adults, for whom there is still no vaccination solution, will spread infection.

    It sounds like through May there will not be much reduction in the level of a continuing high level plateau of ICU reanimation bed occupancy. A few more businesses may partially open, but other essential medical care will still be delayed due to medical resources being occupied by Covid.

    1. What is the need to keep maternelle and primaire schools closed? Young kids are still the least likely to spread the virus to adults. If schools weren’t closed, they would just see each other in private homes, everybody unmasked, AND miss out on a proper education. Take a look at other places around the world that kept schools closed much longer than France. They still have similar or higher death rates than France does.

      1. I agree. I think France did the right thing in keeping schools open mostly. However I think
        lockdown+schools, and local travel only or with attestation for longer distance, should be kept a bit longer as we remain at such a high % of hospital capacity.

        Young adults and children do transmit the disease even though they personally so far suffer less from it.

        Freedom for the Public Holidays in May is still too risky, is what I meant.

        1. In that case, they need to do a full, actual lockdown and not partial. But that is not going to happen, so it is better that kids are in school than not.

    1. As of today your Government has moved France, the UK, Germany and some other countries to Level 4 the “Americans should not travel to these countries” level, apparently.

      1. Correction, Karen : The US government has not forbidden Americans from travel to France. The Center for Disease Control ( an independent organization) has recommended that Americans should not travel to France. It’s the French government ( under EU recommendations) which has prohibited travel from the US with some exceptions as The Local has described,

  3. The 10km rule probably makes sense to Parisians, as usual, but not out where many of us live.
    The two towns where we usually go for shopping, especially for things not available locally, are 12km and 16km away respectively. However, because it necessitates crossing a departmental boundary, we can go to another town 19km away.

    So we ignore the rule and go where we normally do, albeit with an attestation and ready to talk our way out of any controls, but the Gendarmerie don’t seem to be bothering anyway. They probably think it’s as nonsensical as we do.

    I won’t mention where we live!

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