France Set To Relax Travel Restrictions On May 3rd

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France is set to lift domestic travel restrictions on May 3rd, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex. In the midst of its third nationwide lockdown since the pandemic began, the country also plans to re-open certain amenities like restaurants, cinemas, and bars from mid-May.

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Nationwide restrictions will be slowly lifted across France in May. Photo: Getty Images

France will lift domestic travel restrictions

France will relax travel restrictions from May 3rd as COVID cases across the country fall. France was placed under a temporary lockdown at the beginning of April, as the country’s health system struggled under the weight of rising infections and hospital admissions. However, with cases plateauing, authorities plan to gradually reopen the country starting May 3rd.

Jean Castex, Prime Minister of France, said there has been,

“… a genuine fall in the circulation of the virus over the last 10 days. The third wave of the disease is behind us.”

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Authorities will ease restrictions after a drop in COVID cases. Photo: Getty Images

Under the conditions of the current national lockdown in France, residents must remain confined to their region and stay within 10km of their homes. French citizens looking to travel further currently need to submit attestations (permission forms) or risk a fine. From May 3rd, there will be no limit on how far residents can travel throughout the country.

However, France still plans to maintain its night-time curfew, which it has enforced since December. The curfew, active from 19:00 – 06:00, forces all businesses to close and incurs a €135 ($162) fine if broken.

Castex said,

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“The curfew will be maintained until further notice.” 

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National lockdown eased from mid-May

From mid-May, France will begin lifting many of its restrictions on non-essential shops, cafes, and entertainment venues. Around 150,000 shops were forced to close after the lockdown was imposed earlier this month.

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Castex confirmed the plans, saying,

“We want to begin (easing lockdown) around mid-May. But due to the fragile health situation, it needs to be done progressively. [Reopening] could start with café and bar terraces, certain sporting and cultural activities and certain shops.”

The country may end up lifting restrictions on a regional basis. Photo: Getty Images

The Prime Minister also added that re-opening might be done on a gradual, regional basis, “starting with those areas with lower virus prevalence.” Kindergartens and primary schools are set to reopen earlier on April 26th, with secondary schools reopening from May 3rd.

France’s international restrictions

International travel restrictions will still be in place, with the country introducing new quarantine plans for arrivals from five ‘red list’ nations. The five countries (India, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Brazil) have been placed on the red list due to concerns about circulating COVID variants.

Arrivals must quarantine for 10 days and will be subjected to police visits, although individuals are allowed out from 10:00 – 12:00 for “essential errands.” Arrivals from EU nations will not need to quarantine at all, while those from non-EU countries will need to undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine period.

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The country has introduced its strictest quarantine measures yet for ‘red list’ countries. Photo: Getty Images

Gérald Darmanin, Interior Minister of France, provided further details about arrivals from the five red list countries,

“For the most part, only French and European nationals with their main residence in France will be able to enter the country.”

After initially resisting calls to impose a national lockdown earlier this year, President Emmanuel Macron claims his hand was forced after imposing restrictions across the country on April 3rd. While France has had its lowest week-on-week rise in COVID cases since March 13, there are 5,981 people in intensive care due to the virus, an increase from last week.

Have you been living in France under the latest lockdown? Feel free to share your experience in the comments.

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