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COVID-19 RULES

Covid rules and vaccine pass: What changes in France on Wednesday

This week in France there are two big Covid-related changes - the second phase in the relaxation of health rules and changes to the vaccine pass validity. Here's what you need to know.

Covid rules and vaccine pass: What changes in France on Wednesday
Reports of "needle attacks" have caused concern in France. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

It is a busy week in terms of changes to Covid policy in France, with Wednesday marking the latest phase in the gradual relaxation of the rules.

Here’s what changes;

Wednesday

  • Wider relaxation of Covid rules 

A number of Covid rules are being scrapped, which will be of huge relief to those working in the nightlife and cultural sector. 

Nightclubs will be open once again from Wednesday and cafés and bars will no longer be limited to table-service, meaning you will be able to drink at the bar and even have a boogie if you wish. 

Concerts and music gigs can also take place once again.

People will once again be allowed to eat in cinemas and sports grounds, as well as on trains and planes.

You can find the full calendar of upcoming changes HERE.

Several other changes have already come into force this week;

Monday

  • Vaccination centres told to show flexibility to unvaccinated

The health ministry sent a memo to vaccination centres on Monday, instructing them to allow people using fake health passes to wipe the record clean and initiate a real vaccination cycle. 

Up until Monday, people using fake passes had 30 days to inform a vaccination centre and receive their shots without facing legal consequences.

This 30 day limit no longer applies – and those working at vaccination sites no longer need to inform law enforcement authorities of people who were using fake passes. 

Tuesday

  • Vaccine pass rules change

Booster shots are now necessary for most people who want to hold a valid vaccine pass – which is required to use a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts and tourist sites. 

Up until now, vaccine passes automatically deactivated if it has been more than seven months since your second dose and you have not yet received a booster shot. But on Tuesday, this time limit dropped to four months. Anyone who already had the booster is fine, even if their gap between second and third doses is more than four months.

READ ALSO Your questions answered about France’s new 4-month booster shot rule

Bear in mind that in certain circumstances, proof of previous infection from Covid means you would not have to receive a booster dose to carry on holding a valid vaccine pass. 

READ MORE If you’ve had Covid you may not need a booster for your vaccine pass

You can still use proof of recent recovery from Covid in lieu of being fully vaccinated as a condition to hold the health pass. But instead of lasting for six months, the validity of recent recovery drops to just four months on Tuesday. Remember that you can receive a booster once three months have passed since your infection. Full details on how to use recovery certificates HERE.

Finally, when the government introduced the vaccine pass, it offered an incentive to unvaccinated people to receive their first shot by saying that anyone who received their first dose between January 15th – February 15th would be able to use a negative Covid test to access vaccine pass venues. This exemption ends on Tuesday and now the vaccine pass requires everyone to have a full vaccination course, with seven days after the second dose.

  • Home-test kits withdrawn from supermarkets

Supermarkets are no longer able to sell Covid home-test kits (autotests) – you will now only be able to find these products in pharmacies. Over the New Year period, supermarkets were granted a license to sell these kits in order to allow for better  monitoring of the fifth wave. 

The maximum price of a Covid self-test is limited by the French government at €5.20, but many supermarkets were selling them for much cheaper prices.

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.

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