France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

France on Saturday said it had extended until February 15th Covid tests for travellers arriving from China due to the "evolving situation".

France extends Covid tests for travellers from China
A traveller of a flight from China walks through the COVID-19 testing booths at the Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle. Photo: JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP

The tests had initially been decreed until January 31.

Since the start of this year, travellers aged over 11 and coming from China to France have had to present a negative test taken 48 hours before the flight to board the plane.

Random testing will be carried out and anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate, the French authorities said, adding that everyone above six years old would have to wear face masks on the plane.

Several countries had slapped fresh travel regulations on travellers from China after Beijing decided to relax strict virus restrictions.

China has said that the number of daily Covid-19 deaths has fallen by nearly 80 percent since the start of the month.

A wave of virus cases has washed over the world’s most populous nation since Beijing abruptly ended its zero-Covid policy last month.

Beijing’s figures are believed to only represent a fraction of the true toll, given China’s narrow definition of a Covid death and official estimates that swathes of the population have been infected.

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Paris airports plan to cut queues with automated passport gates for non-EU travellers

Paris airport bosses have revealed their plan to cut queues at busy periods, including allowing non-EU travellers to use the automated passport gates.

Paris airports plan to cut queues with automated passport gates for non-EU travellers

With one eye on the upcoming 2024 Olympics, bosses at Paris airports have unveiled a plan to cut waiting times for travellers departing and arriving from the French capital.

Aéroports de Paris, which controls Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports plus the private jet terminal of Le Bourget, on Wednesday unveiled its plan to reduce waiting times at passport control – especially during peak periods like the summer holidays and the Olympics next year.

Paris airports will recruit an extra 255 border agents by June, and another 500 by the end of 2024 (in total the border force wants to recruit an extra 1,200 agents across the country in time for the 2024 Olympics).

The other big change is expanding the use of automated passport gates for non-EU travellers, in order to speed the passport control process.

At present the faster automated gates are generally only used for EU citizens at French airports, but the French government says that they can also be used by passport-holders of the following nations;

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New-Zealand
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • United Kingdom
  • Monaco

These are people who benefit from the ’90-day rule’ which allows them to travel to France visa-free for short periods.

Over the next year, Paris airports will increase the number of automated passport gates from 122 to 170 and also lower the staffing ratio.

Perhaps the biggest difference for travellers, however, will be who can use the gates.

Fabrice Gardon, director of the French border force, explained to France Bleu: “The problem is that at the moment the ‘Parafe’ [automated gates] are configured either for third-country nationals or for Schengen nationals, and we cannot change them on demand, so it’s almost overnight.

“This situation will soon be resolved with the possibility of configuring the gates in real time.”

At present non-EU travellers at Paris airports are almost always directed to the staffed passport control booths – which generally have longer queues .

Gardon stressed the importance of ensuring smooth passage while guaranteeing security: “It is the country’s image that is at stake, especially with the Rugby World Cup and the Paris Olympics approaching.”

Plans for extra border controls via the EU’s new EES and ETIAS systems have been delayed until 2024 because of concerns about longer queues, and it is reported that France would like to wait until after the Olympics in the summer of 2024.