How to travel to France when vaccinated?

  •       Population to be vaccinated: 65,348,513
  •       What vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech
  •       Inbound travelers vaccination proof, yes! To be determined what exactly.
  •       Inbound travelers quarantine:  14 days for those without symptoms and 30 for those with symptoms
  •       Quarantine accommodation: Home, or Government Arranged Accommodation

Introduction

The raging Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 65,000 people in France. This figure represents the seventh-highest national toll globally. France has recorded about 2,680,239 cases, with the new daily cases peaking above 88,000 on November 7, 2020.

Since the beginning of the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China, France has had to go on a national lockdown twice. The second lockdown began on October 30 and ended on December 15, 2020. Upon ending the second lockdown, the French government placed a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am in most areas of the country as a control measure to reduce the further spread of the virus.

How has coronavirus affected the French Tourism and Travel industry?

There has been a massive drop in the number of international tourists and travelers visiting France. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in its statement, said that this could result in an over 82% drop in international visitors spending. This drop will see the French’s economy experienced a shortfall of 131.2 million euros daily or a weekly shortfall of 918 million euros. It also added that the country would lose 2.7 million jobs (representing 9.4% of the workforce) as the Travel and Tourism industry is responsible for creating over 2 million jobs and generating nearly 8% of its output.

In most regions, including Cote d’Azur, tourism has experienced a catastrophic impact as most tourist activities are completely grounded. In 2019, the Cote d’Azur region was said to have received over 20 million tourists, with 50% of these being foreigners. With the shutdown of hotels, restaurants, bars, parks, etc., coupled with the Monaco Formula 1 race and the Cannes Film festival’s cancellation due to the pandemic, visitors have stopped coming to the region resulting in a loss of 2.16 billion euros. Cultural sites and hospitality businesses are still being hit as visits to the Louvre museum fall by over 70%. A survey on the occupancy rate in Parisian hotels from January 17, 2020, to March 17, 2020, shows 84% in January (before the pandemic) and 1.8% in March.

The 2021 version of the “Paris Air show” was also canceled over the coronavirus restrictions. While commenting on the cancellation of the world’s prestigious spacecraft and aircraft event, the Secretary of state for Tourism to the French Government, Jean-Batiste Lemoyne, noted that French’s entire tourism industry has so far lost about 60 billion euros as a result of the pandemic and applicable quarantine restrictions.

As of January 4, 2021, restrictions placed on non-essential travel from most countries outside the EU, including the U.S, is still in place. The French government has termed essential travel as entry by French residents, French citizens, children and spouses of French citizens, and international students with visa or residence permit. With the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on its economy, the French government has now taken steps to roll out vaccines to curb the crisis and revive its economy.

How France Rolled-out their Vaccination Program

France has been said to be among the most skeptical nations globally in terms of vaccination. A recent survey shows that over 58 % of its population are suspicious and skeptical of getting vaccinated.  While other nations are in haste to vaccinate their citizens against the deadly coronavirus, the French government has now decided to slowly roll-out the EU-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in phases, with priority given to the elderly living in the nursing homes.

According to Olivier Veran, French’s Health Minister, the vaccination campaign is expected to begin December 27, 2020, and will be done in five phases:

Phase 1 (December 2020 – January 2021)

The first phase is the “critical phase” of the vaccination campaign, and it’s expected to kick off as soon as the vaccine arrives. This phase will see 650,000 older people (75 years and above) in over 14,000 nursing homes across the country vaccinated against the virus.

Also, in this phase, medical and domestic employees taking care of these nursing homes will be vaccinated due to their high risk of contracting the virus from patients.

Phase 2 (January 2021 – February 2021)

The second phase of the vaccination exercise will begin with people between the age of 75 and above, followed by those between 65 and above – that have certain medical conditions that could make them more vulnerable to the virus.

Finally, people between the age of 65 and 74 will be vaccinated, followed by health professionals above the age of 50. The number of people expected to receive the vaccine at this stage is one million.

Phase 3 (February 2021 – March 2021)

In the third phase, 14 million people are expected to receive the vaccine, including – all people from the age of 50 and above, followed by people below the age of 50 that are suffering comorbidities (with or several additional medical issues).

After the above-listed categories of people in this phase, health professionals and workers yet to be vaccinated in the previous phases will be vaccinated. Simultaneously, “essential workers” (those whose work the country cannot do without even amidst the pandemic) like those in the security and educational sectors will also be vaccinated.

Phase 4 (March 2021 – April 2021)

The fourth phase will see people that have been highly exposed to the deadly virus due to their exposure and contact with the public or known coronavirus cases, and others that have not been vaccinated in the previous phases will be administered the vaccine in this phase. 

After vaccinating the high-risk contact people, those in a “precarious” situation with high vulnerability levels like those in the prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and homeless people will follow.

Phase 5 (April 2021 – June 2021)

In the final phase of the vaccine roll-out, every other people between 18 and above, irrespective of their health condition, will be given access to the vaccine. However, the French government has not made the coronavirus vaccine compulsory for anyone, making it a matter of choice for its citizens and residents.

Do you need Proof of Vaccination to travel to France?

As solutions, including the UE-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the deadly coronavirus surface, nations are now looking to put strategies in place as they reopen borders and begin work to restore some sense of normalcy. According to a report, the French government plans to establish a “health passport” system to curb the virus’s further spread as borders reopen. The bill that was said to be presented to the French Prime minister on December 21, 2020, will give the minister the authority to require proof of vaccination or negative test result for certain activities within the country like traveling or flying across borders, using public transport, etc.

If passed into law, tourists and travelers, including residents, will have to face some level of restrictions, particularly those skeptical of the vaccine. It will not be the first time that proof of vaccination will be required for travelers as over 200 countries have signed an agreement with the WHO (World Health Organization) to acknowledge an international certificate of evidence of vaccination against yellow fever since 2005. The ICVP (international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis) is a yellow booklet required for entry into these countries during visa request and upon entering the country.

However, the French government has exempted travelers from the EU and some other countries from taking a test on arrival or undergoing a quarantine period, so long they strictly adhere to the movement rule in the country. On the other hand, people traveling for essential purposes from countries not on the exemption list must present a test result taken not more than 72 hours of departure or be ready to take a test on arrival and undergo self-isolation.