France has tightened COVID measures for UK holidaymakers, causing more hassle for families planning ski trips this winter.
The country has shortened the testing timeframe for unvaccinated arrivals from the age of 12, and will insist on booster jabs for people to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ for entry to many public venues including bars and restaurants and long-distance trains.
To enter France, arrivals from the UK who are not fully vaccinated must provide a negative COVID test taken no more than 24 hours before departure.
It can be an antigen or PCR test, but it must be taken by a health professional. Self-tests are not accepted.
Previously the test could be taken 48 hours before departure for an antigen or 72 hours before for a PCR, which still applies to arrivals from most other countries.
Reducing the timeframe will pose a challenge for families with unvaccinated children aged 12-plus booked on popular Boxing Day departures as they’re unlikely to find a test centre open on Christmas Day so they’ll likely have to take a last-minute test at the airport.
France will also require everyone to have a booster jab within ‘six months and five weeks’ of receiving their second dose of the COVID vaccine to quality for a health pass (pass sanitaire), which is required to enter many public venues, including bars and restaurants.
The new rule kicks in on 15 December for those aged 65-plus, and on 15 January for all remaining adults.
Those who haven’t received a booster within seven months of their second jab will have to take a COVID test every 24 hours to qualify for the pass sanitaire, or provide a certificate providing they’ve recovered from COVID at least 11 days and no more than six months earlier.
The new rules create further hassle for those heading to the Alps just days after the Swiss announced a mandatory 10-day quarantine for all arrivals, which apparently also applies to British skiers arriving at Geneva airport and heading straight over the border into France and Italy.
As a result of the Swiss quarantine, Inghams has cancelled as Swiss ski departures for the whole of December and operators are rearranging flights for those who’ve booked packages to France and Italy while also seeking clarification from Switzerland about the rules for transit passengers.