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Masks and health pass: Covid rules in France’s ski resorts this winter

Masks and heath passes will be required in French ski resorts.
Masks and heath passes are required in French ski resorts. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP
As France tightens its health restrictions amid a fifth wave of Covid cases, here's how that affects French ski resorts.

Travel

If you’re coming from outside France, you first need to know if the border is open to you.

France operates a traffic light system of travel.

If you are coming from a green country you can travel for any reason. Fully vaccinated people need only proof of vaccination at the border, while unvaccinated people also need a negative Covid test. Green countries include all EU and Schengen zone countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re coming from an orange country, you can only travel for a ski holiday (which is classed as non-essential for travel purposes, no matter how much you have missed whizzing down the slopes) if you are vaccinated. Unvaccinated people from orange countries cannot travel for non-essential purposes. Orange countries include the UK and the USA. Fully vaccinated arrivals do not need a test.

Testing rules apply to all over 12s, but unvaccinated 12-18-year-olds can travel provided they are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult, and have a negative test.

Find the full explanation on travel rules here.

COMPARE: What are the Covid rules in European ski resorts this winter?

Resort rules

The rules specific to ski resorts were finally clarified by prime minister Jean Castex, while on a visit to the Haut-Savoie département in the Alps.

Masks – masks are compulsory in the queues for ski lifts, and also in the lifts. They are not required while actually skiiing, and a ski mask can be accepted for this purpose, provided if fully covers both your nose and mouth.

Health pass – the health pass is now required to access ski lifts. It was previously not required, but with the caveat that it would be introduced if France’s national incidence rate reached 200 cases per 100,000. This has now happened and a government decree has clarified that the health pass will be required to access ski lifts.

National rules

Ski resorts are of course also covered by the nationwide French health rules, as well as those specific to skiing.

Masks – masks are required on all public transport and, from November 26th, in all indoor public places, even those -such as bars and cafés – which are covered by the health pass. There are no exemptions to the mask rules in France and failure to wear one correctly can net you a €135 fine.

Health pass – the health pass is required to enter a wide range of venues including cafés, bars, restaurants, leisure centres and long-distance train travel – find the full list here.

The health pass requires either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24 hours. Visitors from the UK and EU can use the QR code on their vaccination certificate to access the health pass via the TousAntiCovid app, but other non-EU visitors need to acquire a European code – find out how here.

Local mask rules

Some local authorities have gone further than the national government requires and imposed a mask rule even in outdoor spaces, while crowded outdoor locations like Christmas markets are also covered by mask and health pass rules. The outdoor mask rules vary according to the area, so the best thing is to check with the local préfecture, or ask a local guide.

Other restrictions – ski businesses have been very hard hit by first the early end of the 2019/20 season and then the cancellation of most of the 2020/21 season, so are desperate to remain open this winter. Some have therefore imposed their own extra restrictions in the hope of keeping case numbers down, from limitations on group size to extra cleaning protocols, so make sure you check in advance the conditions of stay in accommodation. 

Children 

If you are travelling with children, bear in mind that the health pass is compulsory for all over 12s.

France has been vaccinating teenagers since the summer and over 80 percent of 12-18-year-olds have now had at least one dose of the vaccine, with 73 percent having had both doses. However for people travelling from countries that are not offering the vaccine to under 18s or have only just started their child vaccination programme this may pose a problem, since the health pass is required to access many everyday activities.

Children are required to be ‘fully vaccinated’ which means two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. A single dose or Pfizer or Moderna is not accepted as being ‘fully vaccinated’ and people who have only had one dose will have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people.

The alternative for unvaccinated over 12s is to have regular tests in order to use the health pass – these are now required every 24 hours, a change from the previous rule of every 72 hours.

Tests in France are freely available from pharmacies, but visitors are charged at €22 for an antigen tests or €44 for a PCR test. Either test type works with the health pass.


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