Airlines told to enforce French Covid-19 border rules
The government has threatened sanctions for airlines that allow passengers to break rules for travel to France from outside the EU
Ministers in France are increasing pressure on airlines to enforce the Covid-19 travel rules restricting travel from outside the European Union, which have been in place since Monday, February 1.
Under the new rules, French borders are closed to all travellers from outside the European Union, except those who must travel for one of a list of specific urgent health, professional or family reasons.
The travel rules will be extended this week to apply to visitors travelling from French overseas territories to mainland France.
Sanctions for airlines that do not check reasons for travel
Junior European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune told radio network France Inter that airlines would be held accountable for enforcing the travel rules.
Suspensions are likely for airlines that do not comply. Ethiopian Airlines was previously suspended from operating in France for four days (January 28-31) for not properly verifying the results of PCR tests required for travellers entering the country.
From now on, Mr Beaune said, the onus would be on airlines to make sure travellers had a valid PCR test and to check that they were travelling for valid reasons. He suggested airlines tell passengers: “If your reason is not urgent, you cannot get on the plane.”
.@CBeaune : "Certaines compagnies aériennes acceptaient de faux tests, voire ne faisaient pas du tout de contrôle, plusieurs compagnies ont été convoquées par le ministère des Transports" #frontières #Covid-19 #le79Inter pic.twitter.com/BWWvCyWboL— France Inter (@franceinter) February 1, 2021
Mr Beaune said: “Without a doubt, this week we will suspend more flights from airline companies.”
Border police to increase checks
Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal reinforced this message. Speaking to news source FranceInfo he said: “There are airlines that have been called in and have received warnings, and we will verify in the coming days that they are following the rules. If that isn’t the case, there will be other sanctions taken against airlines.”
A source has since told AFP that a double-check system in airports is likely, carried out by airlines and border police (PAF).
Entry checks by the PAF, which normally take a few seconds, may be increased to five or 10 minutes, in order to check that travellers’ reasons for entering France really are urgent and permitted. The PAF may also ask for supporting documents to prove reasons for travel.
AFP journalists present at Roissy airport, near Paris, on Monday morning said around 300 passengers had also been prevented by border police from getting on planes to leave France.