As part of ongoing efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), authorities in France will further tighten restrictions in Ile-de-France, which includes Paris, Grenoble, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, and Rouen, on Oct. 17. These locales are considered ''maximum-alert zones'' due to a noted increase in COVID-19 infection rates. A daily 2100-0600 curfew will be in place. Essential trips, which include hospital visits, and essential work duties will be permitted during curfew hours; however, individuals will need a special permit available on the Ministry of Interior's website. Persons who violate the curfew will face fines of EUR 135 (USD 158) for the first offense and up to EUR 1,500 EUR (USD 1,760) for repeat offenders. In addition, authorities are recommending house gatherings be limited to six people.
Previously implemented restrictions will remain in effect. All bars within the maximum-alert zone must remain closed and businesses and establishments must implement stricter hygiene requirements. Public and private gatherings are limited to 10 people, a limit of 1,000 attendees is set for organized events; sports and fitness facilities remain closed.
French authorities currently designate the cities of Bordeaux, Nice, and Rennes as "enhanced alert zones," the third-highest level in the nation's tracking system, due to infection rates of over 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of seven days. Additional restrictions in enhanced alert zones include a ban on public and private gatherings of more than 10 people, a limit of 1,000 attendees at organized events, the closure of sports and fitness facilities, and a requirement for bars to close at 2200.
Authorities have mandated the nationwide use of facemasks in enclosed public spaces, including shared workspaces, while a number of local jurisdictions, including Paris, also require their use in outdoor public spaces. Most businesses and services, with the exception of those in areas under elevated alert levels, are permitted to resume operations, provided they comply with strict hygiene and social distancing requirements. Individuals from different households are required to observe social distancing of at least 1 meter (3 feet). National authorities can increase a region's alert level at short notice, and local authorities in areas with heightened alert levels can implement additional restrictions on movement, gatherings, and businesses as they see fit.
Authorities are maintaining international travel restrictions on most foreign nationals. International arrivals from the European Economic Area (EEA) - Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, 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, as well as for persons traveling on what authorities deem to be essential reasons, including certain necessary workers, 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 proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 within 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.
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.