Mouth caps mandatory in shops !

Until recently, in France it was compulsory to wear a mouth shield only in certain situations, such as public transport. Since 20 July, this measure has been further extended. Wearing a mouth shield is now mandatory in all enclosed, public areas. This includes supermarkets and shops, but also the shop floor and catering establishments.


France tightens coronas measures: curfew from
19 hours to 6 hours in entire country

France has announced stricter measures to reduce the coronavirus. A nationwide curfew will be in place from 7pm to 6am starting Saturday.


Update 31/3 President Macron said tonight that the situation has worsened again over the past 10 days, despite the limited lockdown of 19 departments since a week. This is partly due to the spread of new Covid variants that are more contagious and deadly. Therefore, the following measures are being put into effect:

  • All of France will again go into lockdown for at least 4 weeks (from Saturday, April 3 to May 2).
  • Schools and nurseries will close for 3 weeks. Next week there will be distance classes and the normally staggered spring school vacations will be brought forward so that all French primary and secondary school students will then have 2 weeks off at the same time (from April 12-26).
  • The curfew (7 p.m.) will continue to apply, and travel of more than 10 km will require a signed statement of exit with a valid reason.
  • As of April 5, travel between different French regions is again prohibited without an urgent reason. (Return travel to the Netherlands is always allowed).
  • Non-essential stores (open again since November) must close again. The hospitality and cultural sectors were and remain closed (but can look forward to a gradual reopening from mid-May).
  • Working parents who have to take care of school-age children are entitled to unemployment benefits.
  • The French government will urgently continue to expand ICU capacity, including by mobilizing medical students, retired healthcare personnel and the army. I. Current French lockdown rules
  • There is a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. throughout France. Anyone on the streets at night without a valid reason risks a €135 fine.
  • During the curfew and in the new lockdown areas, French people must again carry a completed curfew form (attestation de déplacement). Valid reasons for leaving home in the evening/weekend include: because of work, for an urgent family reason (motif familial impérieux), for walking the dog or for making an international trip (catching a train/plane). See the online form here.
  • Mouthguards mandatory almost everywhere even outside in crowded areas.
  • Stores have been open again since late November, as have churches and hairdressers. But as of the end of January, the largest shopping centers (20,000 m2+) had to close again in France.
  • Working from home remains mandatory in France, if possible.
  • The nurseries and schools are open. However, schoolchildren from the age of 6 must wear mouthguards at school.
  • Private gatherings must be limited to a maximum of 6 adults. The French police are now going to fine street gatherings of more than 6 people again.
  • Events, festivals and large gatherings are still prohibited.
  • Hotels may be open, but only room service is possible, also all hotel catering must close.
  • Gas stations, garages, car rental agencies are open.
  • Homes for the elderly may continue to receive visitors and the French may attend church (but mandatory spacing in the pews).
  • Parks, forests and beaches are accessible (last lockdown they were closed).

For now, still closed in France: restaurants, cafes, museums, cinemas, gyms and also the winter sports areas.

II. Current situation in France.

The figures have been worsening again in France since the beginning of March. The number of new corona infections (=positive tests) is currently hovering around 35,000 per day,

The R rate in France is now 1.16. The occupancy rate of many ICUs in French hospitals is currently 100%. However, there are important regional differences. Very broadly speaking, the western half of France is doing a lot better than the north, east and southeast of France.

The situation is currently worst in Ile-de-France (Paris and surroundings). Furthermore, Hauts-de-France (Nord/Duinkerke, Somme, Pas-de-Calais) and and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (especially in the Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône/Marseille, Var, Hautes-Alpes) are also regions where the situation is not as good as in the rest of the country.

In these 19 departments, the situation has been identified as the most worrying in France: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Val de Marne, Val-d’Oise, Seine-Saint-Denis, Yvelines, Essonne, Seine-et-Marne, Aisne, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Alpes-Maritimes, Seine-Maritime, Aube, Nièvre and the Rhône.

French departments with just the right amount of infections include: Finistère, Creuse, Les Landes, Gers, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and also: Morbihan, Côtes d’Armor (Brittany); Manche (Normandy), Gironde (Bordeaux), Charente-Maritime, Vendée, Loire-Atlantique (Nantes), Hautes-Pyrénées.

This French government website shows recent figures from the departments(look under tab Taux d’incidence) but this overview from France 3 is clearer.

III. Broad outlines of French corona policy

The health emergency (état d’urgence sanitaire) has been declared again in France and will last until at least June 1, 2021. This purely political measure means that the French government is allowed to implement laws and corona rules on an accelerated basis if the situation calls for it.

The French approach to the corona epidemic is based on three principles.

  1. Protect

Mouthguards are widely available in France, both at pharmacies and supermarkets. In an increasing number of places, wearing them is mandatory (see above). Since January 2021, the French government recommends using surgical masks in particular, as they protect better than cloth mouth covers. In some places, that type of mouth mask (Type 2) is now mandatory, including in schools.

  1. Testing

There is a huge amount of testing in France: more than 2 million tests per week. More and more of these are rapid tests (antigen), the results of which are known within 30 minutes. Of the PCR tests, 75% are known within 24 hours. Both types of test are free for the French (even without a doctor’s referral, on presentation of a French health insurance card).

  1. Isolate

A national corona app has been available since June: Tous AntiCovid. Foreigners can also use this app on French territory, and conveniently: the app shows the latest official corona figures from France. People who test positive in France must go into self-quarantine for 10 days.


France started vaccinating at the end of December (notably Pfizer, Moderna) and after a slow start, the pace is now accelerating. By now 8 million French people have been vaccinated with a first dose. General practitioners and pharmacists in France are now also allowed to vaccinate themselves. With the help of the French army and fire department, 35 large vaccination stadiums are being opened, called vaccinodromes.

Starting in mid-April, it will be the turn of French people aged 60 and over, and starting in mid-May, French people aged 50 and over. According to Prime Minister Castex, by the end of May, 20 million French people will have been vaccinated (all over 50s). By the end of the summer, 50 million French people should have received a vaccine (or two-thirds of the French population). Vaccination is voluntary and free upon presentation of a health card (carte vitale) in France. 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all but essential travel to France (including Corsica). This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks. Check separate travel advice pages for overseas territories of France.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in France during recent weeks, with a significant number of French departments now at ‘heightened vulnerability’. In a number of areas, the French Government have brought in extra measures as a consequence. Check local guidance for more information.

The FCDO is not advising those already travelling in France to leave at this time. You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. Contact your travel operator if you have any questions about your return journey.

If you are returning to the UK from France on or after 15 August, you will need to self-isolate on your return, unless exemptCheck the latest guidance for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The guidance includes information on the rules if you’re transiting through France from another country to reach the UK.

Travel to France is subject to entry restrictions

  • Arrivals by sea and air routes will need to complete a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.
  • Although there is no restriction on travel from the UK and most European countries, travel from most non-European countries is subject to entry restrictions.

See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel.

Preparing for your return journey to the UK

If you’re returning to the UK from overseas, you will need to:

Check our advice on foreign travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and sign up for email alerts for this travel advice.

If you’re planning travel to France, find out what you need to know about coronavirus there in the Coronavirus section.

The Department for Transport and the FCDO have jointly published separate guidance for the freight transport industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

A number of demonstrations have been taking place across major cities in France.

If demonstrations do turn violent, a heavy police/gendarmerie presence is to be expected. In all cases, you should avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.

The UK has left the European Union. The rules on travel to EU countries will stay the same until 31 December 2020. This page will be updated with country-specific information for travellers to France as things change. Sign up for email alerts and view the latest updates for UK nationals travelling toand living in Europe.

Around 17 million British nationals visit France every year. Most visits are trouble-free. The most common problem reported is pickpocketing. See Crime

If you’re living in France, visit our Living in France guide in addition to this travel advice.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant and has reinforced its security measures. Check the French government’s advice about what to do if a terrorist attack occurs. See Terrorism

There remain some migrants around Calais, who may seek to enter the UK illegally. There have been instances of migrants seeking to slow down traffic on approach roads to ports, including by placing obstacles on the Calais Port approach road. If this happens you should keep moving where it’s safe to do so, or stop and call 112 if isn’t safe to proceed (keeping car doors locked).

All vehicles, including motorbikes, driving in central Paris, Lyon and Grenoble now need to display a special ‘pollution sticker’. See Road travel

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

The emergency phone number in France is 112. If you need to contact other emergency services, call 15 (medical), 17 (police) or 18 (fire).

Where to buy them in each city?
According to information disclosed by Le Parisien on 23 April, masks will be available for sale in tobacconists from 30 April at the indicative price of 5 euros. Each tobacconist will have to place his or her own order for masks on a platform designed by the Confederation of tobacconists. From 27 April, pharmacies are also authorised to sell masks to the general public to their customers without the need for a doctor’s prescription. Since Monday 4 May, masks for the general public or surgical masks sold in supermarkets such as Carrefour, Monoprix, Lidl, Intermarché or E. Leclerc. These masks will gradually become available in Drives and other mass-market retailers such as Auchan, Aldi, Cora, Casino, Système U… informs the Ministry of the Economy and the Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD) in a press release published on April 29. “As we have done with other distribution channels, we are working to meet the objective that every French person should be able to get protective masks on 11 May. I salute the responsibility of the players in mass distribution for their commitment regarding the prices of the masks sold in their stores,” stressed Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Secretary of State to the Minister of the Economy and Finance.

The major food retailers (Auchan, Aldi, Carrefour, Colruyt, Cora, Groupe Casino, Intermarché, Leclerc, Lidl, Netto, Supermarché Match, Système U) confirm that masks for the general public (cloth and reusable) and single-use masks will gradually be put on sale, in stores and drives, from Monday 4 May, with supplies increasing after 11 May.

Price of a reusable fabric mask in supermarkets: between 2 and 3 euros
Price of a surgical mask, single use, in supermarkets: less than one euro.

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