Travelers from selected countries will be allowed to visit France without COVID restrictions from today (December 15) as the country’s strict lockdown is partially lifted.
France has been under one of the most severe lockdowns in the world since the beginning of November as the country attempted to halt a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. This included a ban on most new arrivals from countries outside the EU and orders to stay at home unless for an essential reason such as shopping for groceries, traveling to work or helping vulnerable relatives. The partial lifting of lockdown measures will allow a return of some international visitors, but many restrictions remain.
Travel Resumes But Many Restrictions Still In Place
The lifting of the strictest lockdown measures on December 15, including a ban on international arrivals from outside of the EU, will be a relief for travelers hoping to visit France over the coming weeks and months. French authorities will now allow tourists from a select group of countries to enter without any quarantine or testing requirements.
The list of countries from which travelers can now visit France without restrictions is currently as follows: Member States of the European Union, Andorra, Australia, the Vatican City, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Rwanda, San Marino, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Any travelers from countries not on this list are not permitted to visit France for tourism, and will only be granted entry if they have a vitally essential reason, and proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure. As a result, this still leaves many travelers unable to visit France at present, including tourists from the US and Canada. It is also possible that the UK will be removed from the list after it leaves the Brexit transition period on January 1.
In addition, travelers to France will still face many restrictions on their activities at present. While the country has exited the strictest lockdown measures, which prevented people from leaving their homes for all but essential reasons, many prohibitions are still in place. This includes continued closure of cultural activities such as museums, theatres and cinemas until January 7 and shuttering of bars and restaurants until January 20, at the earliest.
Travelers hoping to visit France to ski will also be disappointed, as the government has made the decision to close all ski resorts over the Christmas period and likely until later in January. While people will be allowed to travel to ski towns, lift infrastructure will not be running, essentially prohibiting most skiing activities.
On top of these specific restrictions, a curfew will also be in place overnight from 8pm-6am, during which leaving the home is not allowed except for a few specific reasons including travel to or from work. Anyone outside during the curfew must have an ‘attestation’ form explaining their reason for doing so. The curfew will be lifted on December 24 to allow for Christmas gatherings, as long as these do not exceed more than 6 adults, but it will remain in place on December 31 to prevent New Year’s Eve parties.
These continued restrictions on movement and activities will limit what activities travelers to France over the Christmas period are able to enjoy, probably deterring most casual tourists. However, the lifting of the lockdown does mean that people can travel from overseas to be with their family members or to spend some time away from home during the holidays.
Low-Key Christmas Likely Across Europe
Despite the lifting of lockdown measures in France, Christmas celebrations are likely to be a low-key affair with the various restrictions on activities and gatherings that are still in place. Indeed, Europe is set for a subdued Christmas period as several countries remain in lockdown. The Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic are all enacting strict lockdowns which will not be eased significantly to allow for Christmas celebrations.
While the UK had planned to allow for a significant relaxing of its COVID-19 tier system for 5 days over Christmas, allowing three household bubbles to meet for the holiday, this decision is now under question given surging case numbers in parts of the country, including London. While the rules haven’t yet been changed, they are currently under review with potential to introduce stricter measures over the Christmas period.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories