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France lifts quarantine for vaccinated travellers from South Africa

Arrivals to mainland France no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days nor present an ‘imperative reason’ for their visit

Passengers arriving in mainland France from South Africa no longer need to quarantine or have an imperative reason for travel, but must still show a negative Covid test before departure Pic: Rob Atherton / Shutterstock

France is to lift quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated people arriving from South Africa, in a new decree published today (Thursday, January 6).

Travellers arriving in France from South Africa, who are fully vaccinated against Covid, will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days, nor present an “imperative reason” for travel.

South Africa, where the Omicron variant first appeared, has now dropped from the “scarlet red” category to “red” in France.

A 10-day quarantine is still required for travellers who are not fully vaccinated (all doses).

Travellers must still show a negative antigen or PCR test from within the previous 48 hours before departing South Africa to fly to metropolitan France, and from within the previous 24 hours for overseas territories.

Travelling to Réunion and Mayotte is still banned except for a mandatory “imperative reason”.

Sharp drop in new Omicron cases in South Africa

The South African foreign affairs minister, Dr Naleda Pandor, has welcomed the relaxation of the rules.

It comes after studies suggest that the existing Covid vaccines protect relatively effectively against the Omicron variant, which is now no longer contained to South Africa. 

Similarly, South Africa is seeing a sharp drop in new cases (this may partly be because it is testing less). 

On January 5, it recorded 11,000 new cases over the past 24 hours, compared to a record 332,252 in France (yet, more than 80% of the tests sequenced in France still show the Delta variant).

In December 2021, the South African government said it had passed the peak of its Omicron wave, and said that the new variant had caused only a “marginal” rise in deaths, and made very little change to hospitalisation rates.

France’s relaxation of the rules come after several other countries, including the UK, US and Germany, also eased restrictions on travellers from South Africa in recent weeks.

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