From autumn it will cost €49 for all people in France to get a PCR test without a prescription.
President Emmanuel Macron announced the new measure in a televised address last night (July 12).
The government hopes that introducing fees for tests which are not needed for medical reasons will encourage more people in France to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
It means that PCR tests will only be free for people with symptoms of Covid-19 who have a prescription for a test from their doctor, while people who require a test before travelling or other leisure activities will have to pay.
The price of €49 is the amount billed to l’Assurance maladie for each PCR test currently taken, with rapid antigen tests costing €29.
This is also the price that most tourists visiting France have had to pay for the two tests since July 7.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told FranceInfo this morning (July 13) that making Covid tests free costs France almost €100million per week.
In April, the number of PCR tests taken in France hit a weekly peak of 4 million. This has since gone down, but began to rise again in July, Les Echos reported.
Vaccination to be only free way to access health pass
Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal confirmed this morning that rapid antigen tests would also no longer be reimbursed for people in France from autumn.
This comes as use of the French health pass will be extended to venues including restaurants, cinemas and trains this summer for all people aged over 12.
Health pass bearers can prove they are not infected with Covid-19 by showing proof of full vaccination, proof they have already had Covid or a negative PCR test result taken within the past 48 hours.
The new rules mean that getting vaccinated will soon be the only way of using the pass for free, as the cost of getting repeated PCR tests would quickly add up.
Mr Attal told BFMTV fees for PCR tests would be introduced in autumn to give people time to get fully vaccinated beforehand.
He said: “Today we have people in France who have only just had their first dose and are waiting the necessary period to have their second dose so they are fully vaccinated.
“We will not punish them by making them pay for a test in order for them to be able to go to restaurants.”
The time period between getting a first and second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine was extended to 21-49 days in mid-June to make it easier for people in France to fit vaccine appointments in around their summer holidays.
Previously a space of 35 days was given between vaccine appointments.