The UK reports around nine times more daily cases of Covid than France on average, and has detected a new, potentially more transmissible sub-strain of the Delta variant.
This has led some people who plan to travel between the two countries in the coming weeks and months to worry about the stricter rules imposed by France.
For several months in late 2020 and early 2021, people from the UK could not travel to France unless they had a key reason to do so, with few options on the list besides having the right to live or work in the country.
There have not yet been any reports in the French media or by the French government on possible new travel rules.
France has set up a traffic light system to simplify its travel rules related to Covid, with countries defined as red, orange or green depending on the spread and nature of the virus in each country.
The UK is currently classified as amber.
France updated its lists in early October and moved several countries from its red list to its orange list. The status of the United Kingdom has not changed. This suggests that France is not yet considering introducing stricter rules for the UK.
In addition, recent comments from the French Minister of Tourism suggest that France is preparing to welcome British tourists for the annual ski season.
Read more: Health passport requirement for French ski lifts “under study”
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said on Tuesday October 19 that with the increase in Covid cases in the United Kingdom, a health subscription may be required to access the ski lifts at the stations this winter.
The UK is an important market for French ski resorts, and Mr Lemoyne said “the (health) pass is what will keep them open no matter what”.
“We find that in the UK the infection rate is very high. In France, it is also on the rise. The ski industry wants to ensure that it can remain open ”, and this could require the establishment of“ a health package [obligation], ” he said.
This suggests that currently France does not intend to prevent people in the UK from entering the country this winter, but rather to ensure that those who enter are either vaccinated or have recently. tested negative for Covid.
How France Travel Rules Work
France has classified all countries and territories in red, amber or green.
Despite this, the rules are exactly the same for all travelers fully vaccinated against Covid with a vaccine authorized in France, regardless of the country of origin.
The vaccines authorized in France are: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).
To enter France, fully vaccinated travelers need only show proof of their vaccine and complete a form stating that they do not have Covid symptoms and have not recently been in contact with someone with symptoms. Covid.
This means that even if the UK is moved to France’s Red List, fully vaccinated travelers arriving from the UK will not be affected.
This is the case, for example, of travelers from Brazil, which appears on the red list of trips to France. People there who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorized by France can enter France with just their proof of vaccination and the promise that they are symptom-free, in the same way as a person traveling from a green list countries.
Rules are stricter for unvaccinated travelers, with people traveling from Amber and Red List countries having to provide an essential reason to enter France and also having to self-isolate upon arrival.
Read more about France travel rules here: Covid-19: Rules for traveling to and from France
It should be noted that France has in the past made exceptions to its system of travel rules. For example, unvaccinated travelers entering France from the UK must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of departure, while travelers from most other Amber countries have 72 hours.
This means that it is not unknown for France to introduce country specific rules, and it could do so again if the government finds the Covid situation in the UK too dangerous.
Comparison of UK and France Covid Figures
The UK and France have comparable populations, with around 67 million people in each country.
The UK registers an average of 42,763 cases of Covid per day. France records an average of 4,620.
In other words, 446.2 out of 100,000 people in the UK test positive for Covid every week. In France, this number, called the incidence rate, is 48.
In terms of deaths, the UK records an average of 136.3 Covid-related deaths per day, and France records 28.
There are currently 850 people on ventilators in the UK and 1,026 people in intensive care units in France.
The number of daily Covid cases recorded in France started to increase slightly last week, but the overall rate is still very low.
Read more: Covid France: the number of weekly cases shows an increase of 11%
The new Delta sub-variant
A new Delta variant sub-strain, called AY.4.2, has been detected in the UK. Experts say it could be 10-15% more contagious than the original Delta variant.
However, François Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, said the high case rates in the UK cannot be attributed to this new sub-variant alone.
“As AY.4.2 is still at a fairly low frequency, a 10% increase in its transmissibility could only have caused a small number of additional cases,” he told British newspaper The Independent.
“As such, this has not been the cause of the recent increase in the number of cases in the UK. “
This sub-variant has only been detected in a few cases outside the UK, notably in Israel, the US and Denmark, and not at all in France.
A UK government spokesperson said the subvariant is being closely watched and “we are quick to take action if necessary”.
The French government has not yet commented on the sub-variant.
How does France follow the variants?
France launched in January 2021 a new project to monitor the spread of Covid variants, called EMERGEN.
The project aims to map the variants of Covid in the country by sequencing positive Covid tests to see the exact genetic makeup of the sample, allowing scientists to see exactly which variant is the sample.
France is also contributing sequencing data to the global GISAID platform.
A recent study has shown that the Delta variant is now by far the majority variant in France.
Read more: A study shows the current situation of variants in France
Along with sequencing, France also uses a technique called screening (screening, in French) to track the variants. This is where certain tests are sent and analyzed for specific mutations.
You can read more about how France tracks Covid variants in our article here.
The jab booster campaign
France is currently offering Covid booster injections to people over 65, vulnerable people, healthcare professionals and certain other groups of people. See more here.
No final decision has yet been made on whether France will deploy Covid booster doses to the general population.
The UK has also launched a booster roll-out campaign for target groups, delivering an extra dose to those over 50 and healthcare and care workers and the most vulnerable.
Recap: Key points to note about Covid vaccines for UK-France travel
French flu campaign advanced for vulnerable groups
Will my French subscription become invalid if I refuse my booster dose?