Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: France extends state of health emergency until July 10; some foreign nationals may be subject to 14-day quarantine on arrival.

This alert affects France

This alert began 12 May 2020 15:50 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement and travel restrictions; business disruptions

Authorities in France have extended a nationwide state of health emergency until at least July 10 to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). French air and land borders will remain closed until at least June 15; most travelers will be denied entry, and travelers with a valid reason for traveling to France will be required to fill out a declaration form before entering. Repatriation flights will continue. From June 15, persons entering France, including French nationals, from a country assessed to have a high rate of disease activity will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Travelers arriving from the EU, the Schengen Area, or the UK will not be subject to this requirement.

Authorities previously relaxed several measures introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19, from May 11. Individuals may now travel without restriction within 100 km (62 miles) of their home; journeys beyond this distance will continue to require individuals to fill out an attestation form with evidence of a compelling reason for travel. Some businesses, shops, and public spaces will be permitted to resume operations provided they can implement social distancing measures. Urban public transport services will be increased, though inter-regional public transport will remain severely limited, and all passengers are required to wear facemasks. Furthermore, schools are permitted to reopen from May 11 on a voluntary basis gradually and as directed by local authorities. Large shopping centers, cultural sites, and entertainment venues will remain closed, as will cafes bars and restaurants, until at least June 1.

Authorities reserve the right to reintroduce restrictions based upon disease activity in the country, and local governments are empowered to amend or maintain restrictions at their discretion. Officials will continue to monitor and designate each department of France as "green" or "red" based on disease activity in the area; as of May 7, red departments are identified throughout the northeast quarter of the country. As of May 11, public parks and higher education facilities are not permitted to reopen in red departments while other restrictions remain identical; the national government may reintroduce or ease restrictions in red or green departments on a case-by-case basis.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the French authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

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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