Coronavirus COVID-19: the situation in France

Consult French government recommendations on the travel and health measures in place.

For recommendations updated in real time concerning measures taken on French territory, consult the Government / Coronavirus Info site. (External link)

Health measures in France

After a period of lockdown from March 17 to May 10, the measures in force at this stage apply at least to the whole of France, including the green zones (32 departments). Note that the pink and red areas are subject to additional restrictions (see below).

On July 20, wearing a mask (already mandatory on public transport) was also made mandatory in enclosed public places throughout the country, for anyone aged 11 and over. The places include stations and airports, restaurants, cafés and bars, hotels and other shared accommodation, museums, shops, administrative offices and banks, covered markets, libraries, religious buildings, covered sports establishments, etc. A complete list of places is available on the French government’s website for the Ministry of Solidarity and Health here (External link) (French only).

From July 31, mandatory mask-wearing was extended to places deemed relevant by the prefects of each department, depending on the local pandemic situation. Detailed information is available from the prefectures. Consult the map and updated data on the circulation of Covid-19 in France (External link) on the government website.

In addition, from August 28, wearing a mask became mandatory for pedestrians in all public spaces in Paris, both in the inner suburbs and in the wider departments of Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne, as announced by the Paris prefecture. Cyclists and joggers in Paris are not required to wear a mask.

A fine of 135 euros may be applied in the event of non-compliance with the rules in the places concerned. In the event of a repeat offence within 15 days, the fine will increase to 1,500 euros.

  • Wearing a mask is compulsory on all public transport. Passengers should maintain the greatest possible distance between themselves and other passengers or groups with whom they are not travelling. Find out more on the SNCF (External link) and RATP (External link) websites

  • Wearing a mask is compulsory in taxis and rideshares

  • It is possible to travel throughout the country, including overseas territories, for non-essential reasons

  • Parks and gardens, beaches, lakes and other bodies of water are open

  • Major museums and landmarks are open across the country. Wearing a mask to visit is compulsory. Leisure parks and outdoor spaces with a maximum capacity of 5,000 people are open in all zones. Likewise for all theatres and concert halls, subject to strict social distancing rules. Activities involving more than 1,500 people must be properly declared, so that the necessary precautions can be guaranteed.

  • Cinemas, casinos and games halls are open across the country, and summer camps can open their doors in compliance with health protocol

  • Restaurants, cafés and bars are open across the territory in compliance with health protocol (wearing a mask when moving around inside the establishment, tables spaced one metre (roughly 3 feet) apart, and tables for a maximum of 10 people). Restrictions or closures are planned in the alert zones (see below)

  • Group accommodation (tourist residences, holiday villages, campsites, etc) are open in 'green zones' in compliance with health protocol. At hotels, new health rules are offering customers reassuring reception conditions

  • Individual, team and contact sports are permitted, with preventative measures adapted to the different categories of activities concerned

  • Major festivals, sporting events and gatherings of more than 5,000 people is suspended until October 30. Until then, events are allowed for up to 5,000 people in outdoor areas, and in covered areas subject to meeting specific health rules. Note that the gauge is reduced in the alert zones (read below).

  • Trade shows, fairs and congresses will be able to resume their activities on November 1 without capacity limitation, but in strict compliance with barrier gestures, including the wearing of a compulsory mask.

  • Nightclubs remain closed until further notice

  • Ferries carrying over 100 passengers are prohibited from calling into ports in Corsica, and from calling into or anchoring in the internal or territorial waters of the French overseas departments and regions (Islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and French Polynesia) as well as Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and Wallis-et-Futuna, unless special authorisation is granted by the representative of the competent State for the community in question. River cruises have been authorized to reopen since July 11. More information here (French only).

FAQs on COVID-19 from the French government (French) (External link)

Alert zones

Three levels of additional restrictions in areas declared as 'alert zones' can be reviewed in the official government presentation here (External link) .The situation will be reassessed each week for the following fortnight.

'Alert', in pink on the map (74 departments)
. Gatherings of more than 30 people in public spaces banned as of September 28;
. The local prefect can put additional measures in place.

'Enhanced alert', in red on the map (Bordeaux, Grenoble, Lyon, Lille, Montpellier, Rennes, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Nice)
. Capacity of major events reduced to 1,000;
. Major events such as local or student festivals banned;
. Gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces banned;
. Partial closure of bars, the closing time being decided by the prefect; closure of all party rooms and multipurpose rooms for festive and associative activities; closing of indoor swimming pools, as well as sports halls and gymnasiums.

'Maximum' alert, in dark red on the map (Paris and the neighboring departments, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Hauts-de-Seine, Aix-Marseille and Guadeloupe)In addition to the measures applied in "enhanced alert" zones:

. Reinforced protocol in restaurants with the possibility of practicing the usual hours: group not exceeding 6 people at the same table, setting up of a reminder book with customer details, payment at the table, prohibition to consume anything while standing, presence of hand sanitizing gel on the tables, encouragement to download the Stop Covid application.
. Closure of bars, indoor swimming pools, sports halls and gymnasiums.
. Closure of all establishments open to the public unless there is a strict sanitary protocol already in place. As such, cultural places such as theaters, cinemas, museums, are not concerned given existing health protocols.

Visitors

As of June 15, France lifted all movement restrictions at its internal European borders (land, air and sea) put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors from European countries (EU member states as well as Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican) can therefore enter French territory without restrictions related to coronavirus.

On July 1, France proceeded to a gradual, differentiated opening of the borders outside the Schengen area, dependent on the health situation in the associated countries.

In parallel, to fight against the virus, France set up a reinforced control of flows at its borders on July 25. France has drawn up a list of countries in which the virus is heavily circulating and from which it will not be possible to enter France without a negative test before boarding or on arrival.

• These countries are: South Africa, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Equatorial Guinea, India, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Madagascar, the Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Oman, Panama, Peru, Qatar, the Dominican Republic, Serbia and Turkey.
• For the United Arab Emirates, United States, Panama and Bahrain, a coronavirus test is mandatory 72 hours before departure. Travellers will be required to show a negative test result before boarding a plane bound for France or they will be denied boarding.
• For the rest of the countries on this list, a coronavirus test is mandatory on arrival, upon exiting the plane.
• Entry into French territory for countries with a high circulation of the virus is only possible in specific situations, such as French nationals and people who live in France.

Additional information on health checks at French borders: FAQ du ministère de l'Intérieur français (External link)

Overseas territories

  • Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Barthélémy, Saint-Martin and Reunion: non-urgent travel has been permitted since June 22.

  • On July 11, the state of health emergency and quarantine measures for travellers entering Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélémy and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon were lifted.

Before travelling to these islands from mainland France, a negative coronavirus test result from within the last 72 hours is mandatory for all passengers over 11 years of age. A PCR test is performed free of charge in a laboratory on presentation of your flight ticket.

  • French Polynesia: all quarantine measures were lifted on July 15 and borders were reopened to international tourism. All travellers must declare a negative coronavirus test result from within 72 hours before the flight, and present the registration receipt at Etis.pf.

  • New Caledonia: regular international flights to and from New Caledonia, as well as international passenger ferries, have been suspended (except for exceptions) since March and will remain suspended until at least March 2021.

  • Guiana, Mayotte, Martinique and Réunion are classified in the pink zone, and Guadeloupe in the dark red zone on the health alert map (see above).

Please consult the individual destination or local authority websites for more details.

For more information: Coronavirus - Advice for Foreign Nationals in France from the French Foreign Ministry (External link)

Travel information in the event of cancellations or postponements:
• Air France: https://www.airfrance.fr/FR/en/common/page_flottante/hp/news-air-traffic-air-france.htm (External link)
• SNCF: https://www.sncf.com/en/passenger-offer/travel-by-train/coronavirus-our-response (External link)
• Thalys: https://www.thalys.com/fr/fr/situation-sanitaire-coronavirus-mesures-commerciales-exceptionnels (External link)
• Eurostar: https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/service-information/coronavirus-and-eurostar-service (External link)

What are the preventative actions to be taken in order to limit the spread of coronavirus?

The situation is improving in France, but we must remain cautious. Follow these simple steps to protect your health and that of those around you:

  • Wash your hands very regularly
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Use and dispose of single-use tissues
  • Greet without shaking hands and avoid hugging or kissing
  • Wear a mask if you are showing symptoms
  • Wear a mask on public transport, in taxis and in shops where required.