France: confusion continues on rules for teenage travellers

·2 min read
Now open: a café in central Paris (Simon Calder)
Now open: a café in central Paris (Simon Calder)

British families with half-term holidays booked to France are facing conflicting accounts of the nation’s strict Covid rules.

After almost four weeks, French frontiers opened to UK travellers in the early hours of Friday morning. Fully vaccinated adults are now allowed to go on holiday to France, as are under-12s accompanying them.

Initially the rules appeared to insist travellers aged 12-17 must also be fully jabbed.

But now a different version of the regulations for young people has emerged. They will be admitted to France if they accompany a fully vaccinated adult and can produce a negative rapid antigen test result taken in the 24 hours before departure.

This follows the practice adopted by nations such as the UK and US for travellers under 18.

Once in France, though, access to venues from cafés to ski lifts could prove difficult for children aged 12 years or above.

The standard proof required by venues is a smartphone pass sanitaire (health pass).

Access to almost any venue in France requires the traveller to prove – usually via the TousAntiCovid smartphone app – that they pose little risk.

Currently evidence of a negative test or recovery is an acceptable alternative. From later this week, though, the pass sanitaire becomes a pass sanitaire vaccinal – with only vaccinations acceptable.

British travellers over 16 will be expected to be fully vaccinated and should be able to access proof of their jabs through the NHS app.

Vaccinated children aged 12-15, or their parents, can apply online for an NHS Covid Pass letter, which is then posted out to them.

Under-16s can instead take a rapid antigen (lateral flow) test in the 24 hours before intending to access the venue. This option will not be open to 16 -and 17-year-olds.

Alternatively, they can provide proof of contracting Covid-19 between 11 days and six months ago – though obtaining official certification in the UK can be difficult for young people.

The French ban on British travellers was imposed on 20 December 2021 after Boris Johnson talked about a “tidal wave” of Omicron infections in the UK.

The frontiers opened on 14 January – because of what the Interior Ministry in Paris termed “the predominance of the Omicron variant both in France and in the United Kingdom”.

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