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What reconfinement in France would mean for tourists

With the daily infection rate of Covid-19 rising in France, tourists to the country could find themselves caught up in a local lockdown.

France recorded over 2,500 new cases of Covid-19 over the past few days (July 24 - 27), leading to concerns that new lockdowns could be imposed in parts of the country. 

This increase comes as Spain battles with a spike in cases in certain regions, resulting in the UK removing it suddenly from its list of no-quarantine countries, meaning that anyone returning to the UK from Spain will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. In Catalonia, including Barcelona, people have been ordered to stay at home.

As yet, there is no information from the UK government as to whether France will be removed from the no quarantine list, and any decision may be made at short-notice, as was the situation with Spain. 

Read more about whether France could be returned to the UK’s quarantine list

A country-wide lockdown in France looks like a very remote possibility. On Saturday (July 25), French Prime Minister Jean Castex all but dismissed the idea.

“Above all, general reconfinement should be avoided,” he told local newspaper Nice-Matin, citing the social and economic devastation it would cause. He did say that it was possible that local lockdowns could be introduced. 

How will local lockdowns affect tourists in France?

As a similar situation occurred with Spain being removed from the UK’s no-quarantine list and with Catalonia imposing a stay-at-home order, it is likely that similar advice will be offered to tourists looking to come to France, should local lockdowns be imposed.

As things stand, the UK’s Foreign Office (FCO) has issued no travel warning for tourists going to France.

Before planning a trip to France this summer, it is worth checking which regions in France are the most affected by Covid-19.  

For British tourists currently in Spain, the FCO is not advising they return to the UK immediately. 

“Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus,” the government website states. 

Anyone returning to the UK from Spain at this point will be required to self-isolate for two weeks. If France is removed from the UK’s no-quarantine list, it is expected that similar requirements will be imposed. 

For any trip to France that has already been planned, your insurance policy should still cover you for the duration of a local lockdown. This applies unless the UK’s FCO reintroduces quarantine restrictions for France and advises against travelling there, and you book / make the trip after that point. For tourists coming to France from other countries, it is worth checking any travel advice issued by your country’s foreign office.

Some airlines, such as Ryanair, have introduced a policy allowing customers to change their flights with zero extra charge up until December 31 2020. This could allow flexibility for anyone planning to go to an area of France that is badly affected by Covid-19, or anyone in an area badly affected by the virus who wishes to leave early in order to avoid the possibility of a local lockdown. 

What would a local lockdown in France look like?

A report published in early June by the Conseil Scientifique, a body that advises the French government on Covid-19, laid out four different scenarios for the post-confinement period and also stated what measures should be taken in the event of an uptake in cases. 

It states that in the case of a ‘critical cluster’ of Covid-19 being identified, an approach of “localised and early action” should be taken. Considerations for identifying a critical cluster would include there being more than 50 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people. 

Actions should consist of limiting residents’ movement, reinforcing use of barrier measures – masks, hand-washing, physical distancing – and closing bars, restaurants, and other places where people socialise, the report says.

The confinement could be implemented at regional level, departmental level or city level, and could mean that people will be prohibited from leaving the defined area.

Read more about how Covid-19 is affecting travel:

Coronavirus: Travel to France from US via UK

Tourist areas in France open Covid test sites as cases rise

France to add new airport measures as Covid-19 fears grow

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