Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: France categorizes additional departments as "red" zones as of Sept. 19 following increase in COVID-19 infection rates.

Alert Begins 21 Sep 2020 12:06 PM UTC
Alert Expires 05 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and transport disruptions possible

Summary
Authorities in France have categorized additional departments as "red" zones, or Zones of Active Circulation (ZTA) following an increase in infection rates in the country, bringing the total number of ZTA departments to 55, including Paris. ZTAs are designated for departments where new COVID-19 infections exceed 50 people per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous seven days, or where conditions indicate this threshold could soon be met. While being classed as a ZTA does not immediately prompt additional measures in a department, it does give local authorities powers to implement restrictions on movement, gatherings, and businesses should they see fit. Such changes could be implemented at short notice.

Previously, authorities mandated the use of facemasks in enclosed public spaces - including shared workspaces - nationwide, while a number of local authorities, including Paris and Toulouse, require their use in outdoor public spaces. Most businesses and services have resumed operation provided they implement strict social distancing and hygiene requirements. Individuals from different households are required to observe social distancing of at least 1 meter (3 feet). As of Sept. 21, authorities in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseilles, and Nice have implemented additional measures after being designated ZTAs; in these areas public gatherings are limited to 10, permitted spectators at sports events are reduced from 5,000 to 1,000, additional restrictions are imposed on hospitality venues, and individuals are again encouraged to work from home where possible.

Travel Restrictions
Authorities are maintaining international travel restrictions on most foreign nationals. As of Sept. 19, international arrivals from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, the UK, and Uruguay are permitted to enter without restriction. Most travelers from other locations remain barred from entry, though exceptions are made for French nationals and residents, and what the authorities deem essential reasons, including certain necessary work, diplomats, students, and those visiting for urgent family reasons; all such arrivals are required to complete a form declaring themselves to be COVID-19 free and present a certificate declaring their reason for travel.

Permitted travelers arriving from Bahrain, Panama, the UAE, and the US must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours prior to boarding; permitted arrivals from Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, India, Israel, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa, and Turkey must meet the same condition or take a test on arrival. Permitted travelers from all other locations are able to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours or take a test on arrival, otherwise they are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
Authorities could reintroduce sporadic, targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary "self-policing" by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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