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TRAVEL NEWS

France to require 24-hour test for UK and some EU countries over delta variant fears

France has announced stricter restrictions on unvaccinated travellers from several countries that have reported high numbers of Covid cases linked to the delta variant of the virus - the UK, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece.

France to require 24-hour test for UK and some EU countries over delta variant fears
Photo: Ian Langsdon/AFP

In a live TV appearance on Monday, French president Emmanuel Macron announced a package of measures aimed at controlling a delta-driven fourth wave of Covid in France.

On the subject of travel restrictions he said: “From this week, controls at our borders will be strengthened for those coming from high-risk countries, with strict isolation for unvaccinated travellers” – but offered no further details.

However, some clarification was later published by France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune on Twitter.

It appears that France is keeping in place its traffic light system, but imposing extra restrictions on three countries.

READ ALSO How France’s traffic light travel system works

He announced a “reinforced regime” for travellers from the UK who are not fully vaccinated – a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of travel, in addition to having compelling reasons for travel. This is a change from the existing regime which requires a test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Either PCR or antigen tests are accepted, but not home-test kits.

Existing traffic light restrictions remain in place.

This means the new rules from the UK are;

Fully vaccinated travellers – can travel to France for any reason, do not have to quarantine on arrival but do need a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel. Travellers from the UK who had AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine do not count as ‘fully vaccinated’ under French rules.

Unvaccinated travellers – can only travel to France for essential reasons (which includes French citizens and residents returning home), must quarantine for seven days on arrival and need a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of travel. Find the full list of accepted reasons for travel HERE.

READ ALSO Can families with unvaccinated children travel to France?

Spain, Portugal and the rest of the EU and Schengen zone are on France’s green list, but testing has also been tightened up for non-vaccinated travellers who now require a negative test taken within 24 hours of travel, not 72 hours as previously.

On Saturday, the government also tightened entry requiremenets for Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece.

This means the new rules for Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece are;

Fully vaccinated travellers – can travel for any reason, do not need to quarantine or present a negative Covid test.

Unvaccinated travellers – can travel for any reason and do not need to quarantine, but must show a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of travel.

Tests are required for all travellers aged over 11.

All entrants to France need to present a declaration that they are in good health – you can find the declaration HERE.

In travel terms, fully vaccinated is defined as someone who has received a vaccine approved by the EMA – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (but not Covishield) or Johnson & Johnson – and is two weeks after their second dose, or four weeks after the injection if they received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson injection (which is known in France as Janssen).

These rules are in place from Saturday, July 17th.

Member comments

  1. Are they checking the batches of the NHS app vaccinated people? I have one Covishield, under Vaxzveria name but the batch is one of these infamous ones. And the 24 hours test then is for antigen tests only, as the PCR test would never come that soon.

  2. Like Martina I need to know if the test within 24 hours is a PCR one or if an Antigen Test is acceptable; I had ordered, paid for and have, just this morning, received an Antigen test. Thanks

    1. Both are acceptable from July 15th as it says if they are within 24hrs. I travel on Sunday via tunnel to France. Luckily we are testing at 2:30pm on Saturday and travelling at 9:30
      On Sunday. Just by luck

      1. And July 17th sorry as that’s when they say things are getting stricter.

        My wife has the Astra Zeneca one which was from the batch made in India but is not called Covishield it’s called Vacivera

        1. VAXZEVRIA sorry

          Who knows. The batch number is one we saw listed as not recognised by EMA but now they are saying this named vaccination???

          We will just fry our best on Sunday morning

      2. Thanks for that info, we are going on Sunday 1st August at 21.00 so we will have to be smart about our testing! Good luck to you and your wife….have a good trip!

  3. Has there been any change to British residents in France returning to the uk, i.e. do we have to isolate for 2 weeks when entering the uk.
    What is the situation on our return to France, we are fully vaccinated in French Pfizer vaccine

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For members

TOURISM

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Amid accusations of racism at fancy seaside resorts and legal controversies surrounding US statesmen, we take a look at the law surrounding private beaches in France.

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Question: I read that all beaches in France are public property, but down here on the Riviera there are a lot of ‘private beaches’ – how do the rules actually work?

In France, everyone has the right to a dip in the ocean, though it might not seem that way when walking through certain areas.

There are 1,500 of these “private beaches” in France – the vast majority of them located on the Côte d’Azur.

They have become a source of controversy recently, after two private beaches in Juan-les-Pins were accused of racism and discrimination following an investigation and video circulated by French media Loopsider. The video (below) shows how a white couples receive different treatment than North African or Black couples.

So what are these ‘private beaches’ and are they even legal in France?

In reality, none of these beachfront hotels, resorts or beach operators actually own that land, as the sea and the beach are considered ‘public maritime’ and are therefore the domain of the French state.

This means that technically there are no private beaches in France, as no one is supposed to be allowed to own the beach, though there are some caveats to that rule.

Since 1986, the State has been able to grant ‘concessions’ to allow for parts of the beach to be temporarily rented. Thus, hotels, resorts or beach operators can request a temporary rental of the beach for a specific period of time – the maximum duration being twelve years, which is renewable. If the local town hall agrees, then the renter will pay a fee (typically between €15,000 and €100,000 per year). 

This might seem like a de facto way of allowing beaches to be privatised, but the few who manage to ‘rent the beach’ are still subject to some constraints. For instance, they are only allowed to occupy the beach for six months of the year (sometimes this can be extended up to eight months with the permission of the town hall, or twelve months in less common circumstances).

At the end of the season, they are required to dismantle their installations, so permanent private structures on the beach are therefore not allowed.

So you might see a waterfront resort, but they do not technically have ownership over the beach.

What about private deckchairs or sun beds next to the water? 

This is another rule that is not always perfectly respected. Legally, any organisation that rents a part of the beach is required to leave a strip of “significant width” along the sea.

This is usually about three to five metres from the high tide mark, where members or the public can walk along the water or bring down their own towels or deck chairs down to the beach.

If a ‘private beach’ has deck chairs or sun-loungers right up against the water, there is a good chance the renting organisation is not following the rules.

Beachfront property

As the public has the right to be able to access the beach, homeowners are not allowed to block passage and can even incur fines for doing so. 

The public must be able to pass through land to get to the beach, and cannot be blocked from the beach in front of a property.

Public access to the beach came into the spotlight due to a controversy surrounding a property of former American presidential candidate and statesman, John Kerry.

Kerry’s family owns a villa in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer in Brittany, and has fought a three-decade legal battle to be able to block the coastal trail on the property, which by French law, should be accessible to the public. 

Despite the family siting potential ‘security threats’ should the beach front path be open to the public, local authorities backed plans to continue allowing public access in 2019.

What about building a waterfront property?

First, keep in mind that building in general in France is a heavily regulated process that requires planning permission.

You will not be able to build within 100 metres of the shoreline. If you buy a pre-existing coastal property, you will need to remember the three-metre rule discussed above and, as the Kerry family discovered, you are not allowed to block public access to the beach. 

For ‘coastal zones’ specifically, there are more strict regulations and most plots of land by the sea are listed as protected natural areas, and therefore are not allowed to be built on.

Can access to the beach ever be forbidden?

Yes, as per the Coastal Law of 1986, local authorities can forbid access to the beach for “security, national defence or environmental protection.” During the Covid lockdowns several local authorities banned access to beaches to avoid illicit partying.

There are also several rules about what you are allowed to do – and not to do – while visiting French beaches, and some of them might surprise you. 

READ MORE: The little-known French beach rule that could net you a €1,500 fine

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