Amid fears of the new strain of COVID-19, France has restricted travel from the UK. Only certain groups of people, including French and European Area nationals, can travel to France from the UK. You must still quarantine for 10 days upon returning to the UK.
Rules for those travelling from France to the UK
On 13 August, the British government brought in new quarantine rules for visitors returning from France. The self-isolation period has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days, but is still mandatory for anyone returning to Britain from France. You must fill in a passenger locator form giving your address, and there is the risk of a hefty fine if found to be flouting the rules.
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France’s infection rates
The second wave hit France hard, with even President Macron succumbing to Covid-19. Although the UK imposed quarantine on travellers from France in August, France was relatively late to reciprocate. France recorded 220 new COVID cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, as of 17 December.
It’s this rate that the UK government uses for its decision on prohibiting non-essential travel and quarantine on return. If any country records over 20 cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, the government imposes quarantine restrictions.
The bigger picture is that France has begun to see its second wave diminishing and is now well below the UK – and USA – for new infections, at about 11,000 per day. The death rate has also fallen.
Rules for those travelling from the UK to France
Amid fears of the new strain of COVID-19, France has restricted travel from the UK.
As of the 22 December, only French nationals or nationals of the European Area, Britons or third country nationals who are permanent residents in either France, the European Union or the European Area, or those who have an essential reason, will be allowed to travel to France from the UK. These restrictions are expected to last until 6 January but are subject to review.
Anyone who is travelling to France from the UK (aged 11 and above) will be required to have done a COVID-19 test less than 72 hours prior to departure and must present a negative test result.
The travel restrictions apply to air, car, ferry and train passengers.
Know how your purchase could be impacted by a no-deal Brexit with our guide, How to Live in France After Brexit.
Although some travel insurance may be nullified by the UK’s quarantine rules, bear in mind that your previous EU rights continue until 31 December, and that includes your right to free emergency healthcare in France with your EHIC.
What is life like in France currently?
France was previously under national lockdown, which ended on 15 December. However, a curfew remains in place from 8pm to 6am. To leave the house during the curfew hours, an attestation (self-certificate) is required.
Just like in the UK, there is hand sanitiser at the door and masks are required in shops and on public transport. Most people are happy to follow the rules and even in outdoor markets people are wearing masks and social distancing.
In bigger towns there have been more issues, causing the authorities to insist on mask wearing in the streets. Testing has begun in earnest – possibly explaining why confirmed cases have risen so sharply – although you won’t normally have to go through the process of leaving your details for “track and trace” as you do in British pubs.
What does this mean for buying property?
Estate agents have been extremely busy. Many, indeed, cancelled their usual august holidays to cope with the demand, especially from British buyers.
Those buyers who spent their lockdown planning to buy – and lining up properties to view – have been rewarded with sellers accepting offers (although there is certainly not a “fire sale” of property, just sensible negotiation).
Why not spread the cost of a French holiday home and buy with friends or family? Read our guide, Buying with Family.
Agents are conducting physical viewings whilst respecting rules – mask wearing, social distancing and regular cleaning included.
The biggest consequence is that, following your visit to France, you now have to quarantine on your return to the UK. For those keen to find a property and gain residency in France before the Brexit door closes, it may be a relatively small price to pay.