English lockdown reinforces France travel restrictions

A combination of English and French confinement rules as well as insurance considerations now strictly limits reasons to travel

5 November 2020
By Liv Rowland

New lockdown rules in place in England from today reinforce the rule that ‘essential’ travel only is permitted at this time.

This especially applies to those seeking to travel from England to France, though similar advice generally applies also for travel in both directions between the UK and France.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office already had advice in force before today that only ‘essential’ travel should be undertaken to France. This ‘advice’ was not legally binding, but could mean eg. that many travel insurance policies are invalidated if you travel ignoring this.

However from today the advice has strengthened to state that “travelling away from home, including internationally, is restricted from England except in limited circumstances such as for work or education – you must follow all the rules that apply to you”.

England’s lockdown rules are roughly similar to the French ones and travel is allowed for: work and charitable volunteering; legal obligations and transactions related to buying, selling or renting a home; formal education (not extra-curricular activities) and childcare; medical reasons and funerals and taking exercise outside.

It is also possible for ‘compassionate visits’, such as to visits someone who is dying or giving birth, or to visit someone in a care home or hospital.

Finally you may also visit those in one other household designated as your ‘support bubble’ (this means a household with a person who lives alone plus one other household), providing ‘emergency assistance’, receiving respite care or attending a ‘support group of up to 15 people’. The latter does not refer to socialising but eg. to formal situations such as group therapy.

So, reasons to travel to France could include for example giving ‘emergency assistance’ to your relatives in France or visiting a sick or dying relative. However you should not just to go to spend time at a French holiday home for example.

Fines can be imposed in England for anyone found to have breached the rules, starting from £200. The rules are in place at least until December 2.

Other points to bear in mind

  • France is also in lockdown. This means that if travelling from the UK to France, once you are in France you could be asked by police or gendarmes for an attestation form explaining why you are out and about. Reasons could include 'an imperative family reason' or returning to your main residence in France.
                      
  • Due to French lockdown rules you will need an attestation also if going from France to the UK, giving reasons such as essential work travel, or ‘imperative family reasons’. If you are not a French resident then going back to your residence in the UK is acceptable and you should tick the ‘family’ reason box in this case, perhaps also adding a note by hand about returning to your home.
         
  • Concerning UK travel insurance and travelling to France, the risk is notably of invalidation if you are deemed to have ignored the rule about ‘essential’ travel, for example by making a visit for a merely social reason. A few insurers say their policies are never affected by this and you should speak to your insurer if in doubt. British Ehics remain valid to use for healthcare in France despite these issues.
             
  • When you come to France travel companies will usually ask you to make a sworn statement that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19

Previous articles

France lockdown: Can I visit from the UK to help my parents? 

Insurance risks being invalid if you visit France from UK 

War zone insurers to cover UK-France travel

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