The French government has today revealed its plans to initially begin lifting its strict lockdown regulations. The country has been in lockdown since March 14 in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
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However, amid falling cases and wavering of desire to remain in lockdown from a vast number of French citizens according to a recent YouGov poll, the government has begun to implement a slow relaxation of its lockdown rules.
The beginning of this phase will start on May 11, with some schools reopening.
Ministers have also highlighted 17 key areas of focus which includes getting people back to work, restarting public transport and providing adequate safety equipment to the nation including alcohol-based hand sanitiser and face masks.
Working from home remains recommended, and officials will be keeping an eye on any developments to do with new COVID-19 cases.
Further information surrounding the lockdown is due to be announced by President Macron later today.
Though restaurants and cafes, as well as other leisure hotspots such as museums, remain shut for now, if the science proves positive, France’s economy could slowly begin a resurgence in the coming months.
The government has also suggested that restrictions on travel within France may soon lift.
So, does this mean good news for Britons with holiday plans to France?
As it stands France’s border remains closed to non-French citizens, including British travellers.
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According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): “On 20 March 2020, the French Government announced reinforced border controls with the UK.
“You can still cross the border to return to the UK via France.
“If you live in France, the French Government has confirmed that you can continue to enter France to return to your principal residence.”
The FCO is currently advising Britons to avoid all but essential travel for an indefinite period of time, which means even if France’s borders did reopen, the UK government may not allow for holidays any time soon.
French travel officials are also hesitant to look to any type of tourism in the near future.
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According to Schengenvisainfo.com: “The presidents of the Travel Companies (Jean-Pierre Mas) and the Tour Operators Union (René-Marc Chikli) which represent 3,500 companies that employ 35,000 people said that they do not anticipate a resumption of concrete activity of tourism given the current state of border closure before 2021.”
However, EU member states are currently in talks about a possible “joint agreement” which will see borders reopen and travel resume once it is safe to do so.
It is hoped that by producing a strong plan, member states can work together to implement safety protocols and ultimately resume air travel.
Worryingly, though, some EU nations have hinted that Britons may not be amongst those welcomed across their borders in the early days of international travel.
In Spain, when discussing the relaxation of lockdown and the possible ignition of tourism, Balearics Tourism minister Lago Negueruela hinted that Britons will be some of the last to be welcomed back to the holiday hotspot.
He said: “There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures that also puts us in a different situation with respect to them.”
Yet, experts continue to remind budding holidaymakers of the unprecedented and unpredictable nature of the pandemic.
Travel trade association ABTA says: “At this time the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all non-essential overseas travel for British nationals.
“However this travel restriction can be removed at any time, so travel companies are doing their best to manage arrangements for customers.
“Each company will have their own process for managing future departures and will be contacting customers due to travel imminently.
“There is no legal definition of ‘imminent travel’, however it is generally considered to be within the next few days.
“Our advice to customers with future bookings is to be patient and wait to be contacted by your travel provider.
“Travel companies are extremely busy, given the pressures of the current crisis, and will be looking at imminent departures first and deciding how far in advance they will offer alternative arrangements or refunds.”
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