Business trips to France: new considerations on COVID-19 | White & Case LLP

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Faced with the deterioration of the health situation, the French Prime Minister declared a state of national health emergency from October 17, 2020. People who plan to make essential business trips to France should therefore be aware of the new restrictions.

Access to France

In accordance with the recommendations of the European Commission, France has lifted all travel restrictions at its European borders. Nationals of countries in the European zone (Member States of the European Union plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican) can enter French national territory without facing restrictions related to fight against COVID-19.

Decree n ° 2020860 of July 10, 2020 (last amended on October 29, 2020)1 requires passengers from countries outside the European area to present to the air carrier before boarding, a sworn statement certifying that they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 infection and that they are unaware of have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous fourteen days (“sworn statement”), as well as a travel certificate (“international travel certificate”)2.

In addition, this decree introduces the obligation for travelers aged 11 and over to present a negative “RT PCR COVID” test, carried out less than 72 hours before the flight as follows:

  • for travelers from Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, United States or Panama, the presentation of a negative RT PCR test, carried out less than 3 days before departure at the time of boarding is mandatory; otherwise, the passenger will not be able to board;
  • for travelers from other countries outside the European zone, any failure to present such a document on arrival in France means that these travelers must be directed to a health control point at the airport so that such a review is carried out. In case of refusal, travelers must carry out a quarantine of 7 days.

Health measures applicable in France

Preventive behaviors and social distancing

In order to avoid the transmission of the virus, it is recommended by the French health authorities to respect certain preventive behaviors consisting mainly of regular washing of hands, using disposable tissues, avoiding shaking hands / hugs, keeping at least one meter of distance between individuals. as well as regularly cleaning objects and surfaces that have been touched.

These preventive behaviors must be implemented in the company’s premises in accordance with the National Protocol to ensure the health and safety of workers.

Under the National Protocol, business meetings should be conducted via audio and video conferencing and not in person, including when all employees attending the meeting are present on the premises.

Wear a mask

Since July 2020, wearing a mask is mandatory in all enclosed spaces, in addition to preventive behavior.

The wearing of masks is also compulsory in company premises in accordance with national protocol, particularly in shared spaces and during professional meetings.

In addition, it should be noted that a mask must also be worn in all public spaces (and streets) of most large French cities (such as Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg).

Containment

A new decree n ° 2020 1310 of October 29, 2020 sets up a containment order covering the entire French territory from October 30, 2020 (and at least until December 1, 2020).

As a result of the restraint order, only travel between home and the place (s) of professional activity (when teleworking is not possible), as well as non-postponable business travel, are authorized. These trips must be justified by a certificate issued by the employer. The certificates to be completed by the employer are available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

In addition, establishments open to the public (ex: shopping centers, cinemas, restaurants, etc.) must remain closed until the end of the containment enclosure, but hotels benefit from an exemption allowing them to remain open to accommodate their customers (including essential services such as room service).

Failure to comply with the containment order can result in a first fine of up to 135 EUR (and up to 3,750 EUR and a 6-month prison sentence in the event of a repeat offense).

Business travelers must therefore ensure that they have all the appropriate certificates with them to justify their trips to France if they are stopped by the public authorities at the airport and on the road to their destination.

Please note that additional restrictions (e.g. curfew) could be implemented in the coming weeks as the pandemic develops.

Cecilia Grosjean (Partner, White & Case, Paris) contributed to the development of this publication.

1 As amended by Decree No. 2020911 of July 27, 2020, Decree No. 2020 1262 of October 16, 2020 and Decree No. 2020 1310 of October 29, 2020
2 These documents are available at https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/.

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