France will still allow some travellers from SA, but they now face a stricter quarantine

Business Insider SA
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  • French citizens returning home from South Africa will need to endure a ten-day quarantine period.
  • Travellers can self-isolate at home but regular visits by the police, and fines of up to €3,000 (R51,000) for non-compliance, have been instituted.
  • Flights from South Africa, primarily serviced by Air France, will continue as scheduled while access from Brazil remains prohibited for another week.
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France is tightening its travel restrictions on residents returning from South Africa. Travellers will now have to endure a mandatory ten-day quarantine period which will be overseen by French police.

Fearing the spread of Covid-19 variants, France has placed tougher restrictions on travellers from South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. In addition to harsher quarantine measures, the new rules introduced this week scrap almost all exemptions previously afforded to visitors outside of France and the EU.

Only French residents, nationals, their spouses, and children will be allowed to enter the country from South Africa. Travellers from within the “European space” – which includes nationals of the European Union – are the only persons exempt for a mandatory quarantine period.

Testing requirements have also been strengthened. All authorised travellers will need to submit the results of a negative Covid-19 PCR test within 36 hours of departing. Before being allowed to leave the airport and enter France, travellers will also need to produce a negative rapid antigen test result.

While flights from South Africa will continue to operate on a limited schedule, serviced primarily by Air France which offers five weekly flights between OR Tambo and Charles de Gaulle Airport, the travel ban imposed on Brazil will continue until at least 24 April.

"We have observed that the situation is worsening and that is why we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice," explained Prime Minister Jean Castex in a briefing to French parliament last week.

Passengers arriving from South Africa will need to self-isolate for at least ten days. Previously, the French government required that travellers “commit to observing” a seven-day quarantine period.

Although the place of quarantine does not have to be a state-run facility – as is required in other countries, like the United Kingdom (UK) for example – regular visits by the police have been introduced to curb non-compliance.

Returning travellers who fail to adhere to the ten-day quarantine could be fined €1,500 (R26,000). Repeated infringements carry a fine of up to €3,000 (R51,000).

Despite tougher travel restrictions on South Africa, other tourists may be able to visit France as early as May, according to French President Emmanuel Macron. The gradual reopening up of France’s borders will coincide with the standardised use of “travel certificates” which will allow vaccinated travellers to move freely between EU states.

“We are working hard to propose a very concrete solution, especially for citizens who are vaccinated, with a special pass,” said Macron in an interview with CBS, as reported by Associated Press.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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