Will deconfinement affect summer vacations in France?


Prime Minister Edouard Philippe first suggested that the public “may go on vacation to France” this summer, as he announced the government’s € 18 billion support envelope for the sector: The Tourism Recovery Plan.

In a live speech on Thursday, May 14, he said: “The French will be able to go on vacation to France in July and August, and will be able to resume their [holiday] reservations. “

Philippe said when referring to “France” it included both mainland France and overseas France.

However, the Prime Minister admitted that there was “little certainty” on the issue, and that many of the conditions for deconfinement depended on the current health situation and whether a so-called “second wave” Of the epidemic would become more serious.

Likewise, President Emmanuel Macron remained cautious and said that “long international journeys” beyond France and Europe were likely to be limited.

Speaking in early May, President Macron said: “We will limit long international trips, even during the summer holidays. We will remain among the Europeans and we may have to reduce it even more. There are restrictions, and that’s normal. We have not won the battle against the virus. It’s still there, we just slowed it down. “

What we know so far:

Travel to France will be allowed – but not everywhere

In an interview with newspaper The Sunday Journal (JDD), Deputy Minister of Tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said that summer 2020 will be “blue, white and red” [the colours of the French flag] “

The public is encouraged to stay in mainland France and at most to stay in the overseas departments.

The current 100 km restriction for travel in France – except for “imperative” work or family reasons – remains in force.

Mr. Lemoyne suggested that vacationers should focus on “nearby tourism” within 100 km of their home, as natural and cultural spaces are beginning to “reopen in” green “departments. He also suggested that people spread “across the country” and not all congregate on the coasts.

However, he did not rule out the idea of ​​extending the 100 km limit further, and said that “the radius may extend outward,” depending on the state of the epidemic.

Taking the train or the car is encouraged

The French railway company SNCF is doing everything it can to provide efficient service on its network this summer. CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou said JDD: “We are preparing to make 100% of our trains available this summer.”

Tickets for TGV and Intercités trains during the summer months are now available for online purchase.

The tickets will also include a cancellation or a free exchange in the event of future “restructuring”. SNCF also announced that it only sells 50% of its regular tickets, to allow passengers to physically distance themselves as much as possible on board.

Read more: SNCF opens summer train travel reservations in France

The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr. Lemoyne, said: “Technically, we are ready to operate all of our trains – 50,000 trains – during the summer, which is considerable. “

But holidaymakers are also encouraged to take their own car whenever possible.

Air travel, however, will still be very limited.

Mr. Lemoyne said: “Air travelers will have a hard time, mainly because the borders are still very likely to be closed,” but he admitted that it was “inevitable” for trips to destinations such as Corsica. or overseas France.

You can already book a hotel

The government is now encouraging vacationers to book accommodation as a way to boost the sector’s economy.

However, Mr. Philippe sought to reassure the public that his vacation reservations would be refunded if, in the worst case, they could not continue.

He said: “Everyone in tourism and the hotel industry is trying to make sure that people are fully reimbursed [for their bookings] In the event that the spread of the epidemic means that new reservations are forced to be canceled after all. “

Sunbathing on the beach is unlikely

Although most of the beaches in France reopened during the first weekend of deconfinement – according to the decision of the local authorities – most of them are still only accessible to people who exercise, and not not for sunbathing or relaxing on the sand.

Individual activities such as running, walking or swimming will be allowed, but group sports or non-sports activities are unlikely to be.

This should remain the case this summer.

Mr. Lemoyne said, “We will no longer be able to line up next to each other. The way we use the beach will have to change for a while. “

For some very popular tourist beaches, some mayors have suggested that a reservation system could be put in place to limit the number.

Antoine Parra, mayor of Argelès-sur-Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales, Occitanie), said news network BFMTV: “We are thinking of a digital reservation system, which would be free and open to everyone during peak hours.”

Large open spaces should be prioritized

The public is encouraged to choose wide open spaces and nature breaks as destinations this year, to avoid crowds on beaches and in coastal towns.

Didier Arino, director of the independent tourism consultancy firm Protourisme, told the news network Europe 1: “What we see is really a desire [among the public] for space, in nature, with far fewer people. We also see it among the rentals of holiday accommodation, and in particular for houses with swimming pools, which are in great demand. “

Rural regions of France – such as Creuse (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Lozère (Occitanie), below; and Nièvre (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) – are preparing in particular for a larger than normal influx of visitors, because their relatively low population density and their open spaces make them ideal destinations for a population that is always trying to stay “Physically distanced”.

Read more: Rural France prepares for summer tourism after Covid-19

The Château de Florac in Lozère, France, near the Cévennes National Park (Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

What is not yet clear:

If travel abroad will be allowed

If very long-haul travel seems out of the question, the rules for travel within the Schengen area and in Europe remain less clear. Travel within countries is still very limited, and in some cases prohibited, between European countries. But that will soon change.

From June 15 – if the health situation allows – travel should reopen between France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

The EU calls on its members to reopen their internal borders to allow tourism to resume.

However, there is still no consensus, as Spain recently announced that it would restrict all non-essential travel across its borders and impose a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals.

During the weekend, however, Italy announced that it would reopen its borders from June 3 and that it would no longer need quarantine.

This prompted the French Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner criticize the “Unilateral decisions” taken by certain European member states.

On Saturday May 16, he said: “The unilateral decision of Spain [and] Italy … does not make it easier for us to work in solidarity … It is essential that we have coordinated decisions at European level, in particular within the Schengen area. This is not the case today. “

Likewise, confusion arose after the United Kingdom appeared to turn around over the weekend. After a joint statement initially stated that arrivals to the UK from France – including owners of second homes – would not be required to self-quarantine, this has now been reversed.

In the latest update, all travelers from France – by plane, ferry and train – will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK.

Read more: U-turn: British quarantine of 14 days for arrivals from France

If it will be possible to go camping

Campsites have been closed since March 15, but many have now implemented a “health and safety protocol” to protect campers from the spread of the virus.

However, they should always remain closed. The government has released no indication of when or how they might reopen. This is also the case for holiday villages.

More information on this sector should be announced in late May.

When and how restaurants and bars will reopen

Until now, all bars and restaurants in France remain closed.

The government announced its intention to allow the reopening of establishments – if the health situation allows – on June 2, in departments classified as “green”. This should be confirmed on May 25.

Social distancing measures will still have to be put in place. Lemoyne said, “Experts have said they would like at least one meter between [restaurant] the tables. “

However, Mr. Lemoyne recognized that it would be very difficult to impose on businesses.

As a result, the government is trying to encourage people to eat in restaurants by doubling the value of its restaurant vouchers (Restaurant Tickets) at 38 €, and allowing their use on weekends and holidays until the end of 2020 (contrary to the usual rules).

Related stories

Prime Minister of France: “Public holidays in France” this summer

Rural France prepares for summer tourism after Covid-19

Macron: “Too early to say” if summer vacation is possible

U-turn: British quarantine of 14 days for arrivals from France


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