President Emmanuel Macron announced a four-step plan to lift many COVID-19 restrictions in France, including opening up on June 9 to foreign tourists with proof of vaccination or a recent negative PCR test.
Along with much of Europe, France has turned away Americans for more than a year. After hinting at resuming travel earlier this month, Macron laid out re-opening specifics this week, as reported by several news sources including Reuters and Forbes.
The country’s plans to scale back weeks of lockdowns starts May 3, when it lifts the domestic travel ban. By May 19, all non-essential businesses, including museums and theaters, will be allowed to re-open and the curfew will be pushed back to 9 p.m. This will pave the way to welcome international travelers by June 9 and extend the curfew to 11 p.m. By June 30, Macron hopes to eliminate the curfew completely.
The announcement comes weeks after Macron first hinted at opening France’s borders. Just last week, top EU officials suggested Europe could open to travelers this summer – but with no concrete timeline as the continent grapples with a third wave of COVID-19 cases and broad lockdowns.
Now, a firm reopening date for France is in sight. It’s just the latest European country to make plans to reopen to Americans and other travelers. Officials in Spain announced this week plans to restart travel in June. Iceland reopened to vaccinated travelers in March. Croatia and Greece have since joined that list.
“We will progressively lift the restrictions at the beginning of May, which means that we will organize in the summertime with our professionals in France for French, European citizens, but as well for American citizens,” Macron said in a previous CNN interview earlier in April. “So we are working hard to propose a concrete solution, especially for U.S. citizens who are vaccinated … with a special pass, I would say.”
But France’s time frame for reopening could clearly change. It depends on whether France can keep its COVID-19 cases under control. If intensive care units reach capacity or COVID-19 infections reach a saturation of over 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in a region, that could push back the reopening timeline.
Travel to France: What You Need to Know
France plans to allow international travelers into France starting June 9 with a vaccine certificate or a negative PCR test. Travelers will be expected to present a “health pass” – the details of which are still unknown. It’s also unclear how recent a negative COVID-19 test will need to be for entry.
Macron said government officials are finalizing the technical requirements for visiting Europe. He referenced the European Union’s ongoing effort to create a “digital green certificate” that would allow travelers to prove their vaccination status or COVID-19 test results in order to travel throughout Europe.
More than a year into the pandemic, nearly all Americans are still banned from traveling to much of Europe. A sluggish vaccination campaign combined with a third wave of COVID-19 cases across the continent has forced many major cities and even entire countries back into lockdown, including France.
All the while, the European Commission has been working on a plan to allow travel to safely resume – first within Europe, and eventually to welcome Americans and other foreigners. And a handful of countries have gone reopened faster with vaccination or testing requirements, including Iceland, Greece, and Croatia.
But traveling to Europe won’t be as easy as it was just a few years ago.
In Iceland, for example, visitors are required to present proof of vaccination such as the standard Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine card. And currently, all international travelers will still be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight to the U.S. – regardless of their vaccination status.
It’s not a sure thing yet, as COVID-19 remains unpredictable. But France has announced its plans to reopen to Americans and other travelers on June 9. If all goes according to plan, that bodes well for much of the rest of Europe, too.