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TRAVEL NEWS

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?
COVID-19 preventive measures information document provided to the passengers of a flight from China at the Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy, outside Paris, on January 1, 2023, as France reinforces health measures at the borders for travellers arriving from China. Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).  

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WEATHER

Traffic jams, sun and storms: What to expect in France over Pentecost weekend

The last of May’s long weekends starts on Friday - here’s what you can expect on the roads, and from the late spring weather over the Pentecost weekend.

Traffic jams, sun and storms: What to expect in France over Pentecost weekend

Monday is Pentecost, the last jour ferie of a holiday-heavy May – and the last one before the Fête nationale on July 14th. And plenty of people plan to make the most of it, with the weather set mostly fair.

READ ALSO Why do many in France work for free on Pentecost public holiday?

Warm, sunny and a bit stormy

According to national weather forecaster Météo-France, we’re set to enjoy some early summer heat over the weekend, with temperatures, especially in the north of the country, closer to July than the end of May – thanks to an anticyclone hovering over Ireland.

While morning temperatures are expected to remain around normal for the the time of year, afternoon temperatures of between 20C to 25C are forecast for the afternoons in the northern half of the country , and 24C to 28C in the southern half – rising as high as 30C in areas such as the Gard, Vaucluse and Var.

Image: Meteo France

Scattered storms and showers, particularly in the south, may punctuate the conditions on Saturday and Sunday, notably in Nouvelle Aquitaine, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and the interior of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Image : Meteo France

The good news is the situation is not expected to change much in the first part of next week, as May turns to June. 

The weather will remain very sunny in the northern half of France, and slightly more unstable in the south, with sometimes stormy showers. Temperatures will remain at high levels, especially in the northern half where the maximums will often be close to the normal values ​​of early July.

Roads watch

Friday is the big travel day for the long weekend with many expected to make an early getaway, roads watchdog Bison Futé forecasts.

It has issued a nationwide red travel alert – indicating very difficult conditions on the roads – for Friday for travel away from major cities and in the direction of popular resorts, and a yellow alert – indicating difficult road conditions – heading to major cities.

It specifically recommends that, on Friday, motorists should:

  • travel in the Île-de-France region and major cities before 12noon;
  • avoid the A1 between Paris and Lille from 5pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A13 between Paris and Rouen from 12noon to 10pm, between Rouen and Caen from 3pm to 9pm, and between Caen and Paris from 10am to 9pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Orléans and Tours from 4pm to 7pm, and between Bordeaux and Paris, from 11am to 12midnight;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 2pm to 10pm, and between Marseille and Lyon, from 9am to 12midnight;
  • avoid the A50 between Marseille and Toulon from 5pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Orange and Narbonne from 4pm to 7pm, between Spain and Orange from 4pm to 7pm, and between Montpellier and Orange, from 9am to 11pm;
  • avoid the A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne, from 5pm to 10pm, and between Narbonne and Toulouse from 11am to 12midnight;
  • avoid the N12 Rennes and Morlaix from 5pm to 7pm.
  • avoid the A11 between Nantes and Paris, from 9am to 12midnight;
  • avoid the N165 between Quimper and Nantes, from 10am to 7pm;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel (N205), between Italy and France, from 11am to midnight.

A yellow travel warning for Saturday is in force, with motorists advised to:

  • restrict travel in the Île-de-France region to before 8am;
  • avoid the A13 between Paris and Caen from 10am to 5pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Orleans and Tours from 11am to 2pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 11am to 5pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Montpellier and Narbonne from 10am to 12pm;
  • avoid the A75 between Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier from 11am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse from 10am to 12pm;
  • avoid the A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne from 10am to 2pm.

One final yellow warning has been issued for the northwest quarter on Monday, on roads away from resorts returning to major cities.

Anyone travelling on France’s main arterial routes on Monday should: 

  • restrict travel in the Île-de-France region to before 2pm;
  • avoid the A11 between Le Mans and Paris from 4pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A13 between Caen and Paris from 10am to 8pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Marseille and Lyon from 12pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Montpellier and Orange from 11am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Toulouse and Bordeaux from 4pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A61 between Narbonne and Toulouse from 3 pm to 7 pm;
  • avoid the N165 between Quimper and Nantes from 10am to 7pm.

Rail and airports

Airports are reported to be running as expected, but expect some delays on rail networks, as maintenance works are routinely scheduled for the holiday weekend.

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