France To Implement 14 Day Quarantine For Non-EU Travelers

Over the weekend, the French government announced it would be imposing a new two-week quarantine for anyone entering France. The announcement caused confusion as it seemed to contradict news that the country would begin to leave lockdown next Monday. The government has since confirmed that the new rules will not apply to travelers from the United Kingdom, EU member states of those within the Schengen region.

Charles De Gaulle
Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris has seen a 90% drop in traffic, but new restrictions could see an increase in EU flights. Photo: Dmitry Avdeev via Wikimedia Commons

This new clarification from the French government has sparked hopes that international travel, at least within Europe, is soon to return. The initial announcement caused many debates as French citizens are still being told not to book holidays more than 100km from their homes.

Introducing regulations on international travel means that President Macron’s initial suggestion of closing all EU borders until September looks unlikely. On Sunday, the French Health Minister said that the new quarantine would apply to everyone arriving on French soil. However, a tweet from the French Embassy in the UK confirmed that, in reality, the new quarantine would not affect those entering France from “the European area (EU, Schengen and the UK).”

A positive message

The news that borders may be reopening within Europe is excellent news for airlines. The two-week quarantine for those traveling from the US or other non-European countries does mean it is unlikely that the tourism industry will fully recover this summer. However, free movement within Europe should allow airlines to restart some summer schedules.

Of course, this does favor airlines with a strong European network. Even though China is starting to open up airports again, a two-week quarantine would limit the number of people entering Europe. However, airlines like Ryanair, Wizz Air, and easyJet should take heart from France’s announcement. Summer holiday traffic could yet be a reality.

While it is only France which has so far hinted at opening up travel restrictions, other countries look set to do the same. France will be giving more information as to what will happen after it eases lockdown on the 11th of May, and more countries will be following suit. Spain has now allowed people outside to exercise, and in several European countries, schools are reopening.

Wizz Air plane on runway
Wizz Air is offering flights within Europe for as little as £12.99 despite many countries still being in lockdown.  Photo: Wizz Air

Confusion

And European flights aren’t just a promise for the future. This week Wizz Air is promising flights to several European destinations. So is Ryanair. Some flights on Wizz Air costs as little as £12.50 ($16). British Airways is also operating flights from Heathrow to Lisbon despite Portugal remaining in lockdown.

Air France grounded planes
The French government has pledged  €7 billion ($7.7 billion)  for Air France. The cost of keeping the airline afloat may have encouraged the government to open up borders sooner than expected. Photo: Getty Images

The confusion seems to be arising from doubts over why people can fly. Airlines are still operating flights for cargo, medical personal, essential workers, and to repatriate citizens. However, it hasn’t been made clear to everyone that currently, flights are not operating for general passengers. As countries lift restrictions at different times, confusion is likely to continue. For example, France hasn’t clarified if someone traveling from China, changing in London, and then entering France will be subject to the new 2-week quarantine.

Although there are promising signs for airlines and passengers alike, there is still so much unknown. Governments themselves don’t seem to be fully aware of what their next moves will be, as evidenced by France’s clarification announcement. But all signs are pointing to entering the recovery stage within the next month or so, and with that, we should start to see our skies getting a little busier again.

When do you think travel restrictions will be lifted within Europe? Do you agree with France’s decision to impose a quarantine on non-EU countries? Let us know your thoughts.

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