Covid-19 in France: France-UK travel update
As France imposes strict measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic, these are the latest updates on restrictions and conditions for travel between France and the UK.
Long-distance transport (trains, buses, planes) will be "gradually reduced" as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, transport minister Elisabeth Borne has announced this morning (Sunday, March 15).
Flights to and from France are continuing to operate, but you are advised to check your specific journey with the airline directly before travelling.
If the airline has not contacted you about changing or cancelling your journey ahead of time, then this usually means your flight is going ahead as scheduled, and you will be subject to the usual fees for any changes or cancellations.
If the airline itself is forced to cancel, you will normally be entitled to a refund or alternative journey.
Air France has said that it will allow fee-free exchanges and refunds for all tickets before March 31 2020.
Further information on its Covid-19 measures and flight restrictions can be found on its dedicated page here.
EasyJet has said it will waive any flight change fees for bookings from Friday March 13.
EasyJet has recommended that customers make their changes for free online, as calling its Contact Centre incurs a £5 fee per person per flight. See more on its Covid-19 updates page here.
It also said: “The health and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is our highest priority.
“We would like to reassure customers that our existing policies and procedures are in line with the guidance provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and EASA. We remain in regular contact with the authorities and will amend our procedures if and when required if guidance changes.
“We understand the uncertainty many customers may be facing and so any easyJet customers who wish to change their travel plans can now transfer their flights to alternative dates and/or an alternative destination without a change fee.
“If the new fare is higher customers would only be required to pay the fare difference. This waiver applies to both existing and new bookings until further notice.”
More details and information on how to change your flights can be seen on the easyJet website here.
Ryanair has now waived fees for flight changes from March 13 to March 31.
In a letter, it said: “We understand there is uncertainty around travel at this time, so if you currently have a booking with us in March and you would now prefer not to fly then from Friday March 13, you can now change your flight online and we will waive the flight change fee.
“This applies to all existing and new bookings until Tues 31 March. Should there be a difference in fare you’ll need to pay this - however by waiving the change fee, we want to ensure you have more flexibility to change your travel plans.
“Where we’ve been required to cancel flights, customers will be able to transfer to an alternative Ryanair flight free of charge or receive a refund.”
In an open letter, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary has written: “On behalf of all of us in Ryanair, we are truly sorry for any inconvenience the Covid-19 crisis may be causing you and your family.
“If you are flying with Ryanair, we want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to minimise risk. We have raised many of our procedures, beyond the protocols required by the authorities.”
Ryanair has set up a page with information about Covid-19 here, but added that if passengers have not received email or SMS notification of a cancellation and given the option to refund or rebook, then their “flight is operating as normal”.
More information on how to check the status of your flight can be seen on the Ryanair Covid-19 page here.
Transavia flies between Edinburgh and Paris. Most of its flights are continuing to operate normally, unless passengers are advised otherwise.
Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, secretary of state for transport, has said today that from tomorrow (Monday, March 16), about 7 trains out of 10 will be running, including TGV [services].”
SNCF has already confirmed that it is allowing free exchanges and refunds on tickets due to coronavirus Covid-19, including for TGVs.
In a statement, SNCF has confirmed: “For journeys until April 20, 2020, SNCF has decided to waive fees for exchanges and refunds on TGV InOui, Ouigo and Intercités tickets.”
SNCF also said that all of its trains are receiving “a meticulous, deep daily clean to remove the risks of contamination as much as possible”.
Yesterday, Brittany Ferries issued a statement saying: “Brittany Ferries has outlined a series of changes to its schedules, in response to the on-going Coronavirus crisis.
“On 12 March, the French government announced a series of measures to protect its citizens. As a company employing all-French crew, Brittany Ferries must now also respond quickly. It must prepare for the possibility that many crew may not be available to work, either through self-isolation or because they are caring for family members at home.”
All Portsmouth-Caen, Portsmouth-St Malo, and Poole-Cherbourg services are running normally in both directions.
Portsmouth-Cherbourg services will “resume” on April 30, 2020. All Portsmouth-Le Havre services are cancelled until April 8.
Seven Plymouth-Roscoff services have been cancelled between now and April 9.
All updates on specific services and cancellations are available on the Brittany Ferries Covid-19 page here.
Passengers are advised to be alert should they choose to travel.
The company has said it is operating a “Coronavirus Protocol”, and supplying hand sanitiser to all customers and staff aboard its ships. It has also placed posters on good hygiene habits and handwashing in bathrooms and other relevant areas.
It also said that all of its ships are ventilated with fresh air, rather than recirculated air, including in cabins.
On its Covid-19 page, DFS Ferries has said: “Unless there is a direct travel ban from official authorities, we will keep sailing. None of the countries we are operating in, are currently listed as risk areas.”
As of March 14, its head of passengers, Kasper Moos, has issued a statement saying: “The French government have taken a number of significant measures within France as part of efforts to inhibit the spread of COVID-19.
“Our ships sailing Dover Dunkirk, Dover Calais and Newhaven Dieppe will continue to sail with important safety measures already implemented.”
Further information on its safety and health precautions and coronavirus protocols can be seen on the DFS Ferries Covid-19 page here.
P&O Ferries has issued a statement on its website, saying: “We want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to support you with your travel plans, in light of the unprecedented health risk in COVID-19 (Coranavirus).”
Its CEO Janette Bell has written an open letter on the crisis here.
She said: “Whilst these are exceptionally challenging times for our industry, you can continue to put your trust in us, not only to take you where you need to go, but to do so safely, comfortably, and provide you with maximum flexibility.”
The letter also details the measures the company has put in place to maintain hygiene standards and safety. Full details can be read here.
The company has also said: "To give you greater flexibility and peace of mind during the uncertainty caused by Coronavirus (COVID 19), our customers will be able to amend their travel dates without incurring an amendment fee."
It said that passengers wishing to amend their travel dates free of charge should call its Contact Centre on 0800 130 0030. This is applicable to both new and existing bookings.
The French government has issued health advice to help stop the virus from spreading.
This advice includes:
- Keep a 1 metre distance between yourself and others.
- Wash your hands with soap or hydro-alcoholic sanitiser gel frequently.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.
- Use single use tissues and dispose immediately after use.
- Do not shake hands, or greet people with kisses on the cheek.
- If you are sick, stay at home and wear a mask in the company of others.
If you believe you are sick, do not go to the hospital or visit your local doctor as you may infect others. Instead call your local doctor and take paracetamol for the fever. Do not take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or cortisone to treat the possible symptoms of Covid-19 as these could actually worsen the infection.
If you have returned from a high risk area, including China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao); Singapore, South Korea, Iran or the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, and present symptoms of respiratory infection such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing within 14 days of your return, call the SAMU emergency number, 15. Do not go to your local hospital or doctor.
A free hotline service can answer your questions about the coronavirus Covid-19 non-stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0800 130 000. It cannot give medical advice.
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