France proposes coronavirus quarantine for visitors from abroad

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If passed, law would mean anyone arriving would be confined even if asymptomatic

The French government is proposing mandatory quarantine of at least 14 days for visitors from abroad, under an extension of emergency legislation to be presented to parliament this week.

If passed, the law would mean anyone arriving in France would be confined even if they show no symptoms of Covid-19. Those showing symptoms or who test positive for the virus could be placed in mandatory isolation for up to 30 days.

Related: France to sell some of nation's antique furniture to support hospitals

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France | The Guardian

The French government is proposing mandatory quarantine of at least 14 days for visitors from abroad, under an extension of emergency legislation to be presented to parliament this week.

If passed, the law would mean anyone arriving in France would be confined even if they show no symptoms of Covid-19. Those showing symptoms or who test positive for the virus could be placed in mandatory isolation for up to 30 days.

Saturday’s announcement, which gave no indication of when hotels, restaurants and cafes would be allowed to reopen, will disappoint the French tourism sector, already hit by cancellations and uncertainty. France is the world’s number-one tourist destination, with more than 89 million visitors a year.

Officials in popular holiday areas described the move as catastrophic and said many would find it hard to recover.

Olivier Véran, the French health minister, said: “This quarantine will be imposed on anyone arriving on French soil.” He added that this would affect mainly French people and those normally resident in France returning home from abroad.

The bill extends the country’s “state of health emergency” until 24 July.

Véran said: “The 14 days [quarantine] is for people who are not symptomatic: isolation concerns those who have tested positive for the coronavirus according to a medical assessment.”

Cases will be treated on an individual basis and those placed in quarantine or isolation – organised by the French authorities and possibly in hotels or designated medical centres – will be able to appeal to a judge. The decision to place someone in isolation would be examined by a judge who would declare if it was justified and fair, Véran added.

Unlike visitors, those already in France who test positive for coronavirus will be expected – not obliged – to self isolate. “We are relying on the French people’s spirit of responsibility,” Véran said.

There is no indication of when the new rules in the draft bill, to be examined by parliament on Monday and Tuesday, will come into effect or who will be exempt. Véran said details would be published in a decree.

It is understood that cross-border workers, international transport workers and hauliers and those involved in urgent medical work, currently allowed to enter France if carrying an international attestation, would not be subject to quarantine.

State television reported there was currently no plan to test people arriving in France before placing them in quarantine.

Georges Mela, the mayor of Porto-Vechhio in Corsica, which attracts 3 million tourists annually, called on the government to introduce a system of “health passports” for those who can prove they have tested negative for the virus in the seven days before arriving in France. The Italian government is considering a similar scheme, he said.

“The collapse of the tourist industry would be a catastrophe for the whole of Corsica, one it would take years to recover from,” Mela said in a statement. Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, has made a similar request.

Christophe Castaner, the French interior minister, has already said France’s borders would remain closed “for the foreseeable future” even after the country’s strict lockdown ends. People have been told to avoid journeys of more than 100km (62 miles) after 11 May.

“It has to be said that this holiday season will not be like others,” Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, secretary of state for tourism, told the national assembly last week, urging citizens to think “ultra-local” when planning breaks this year.

On Saturday, Castaner also announced the extension of fines for those who do not respect physical distancing rules in public places when the lockdown ends. “The challenge in the coming months will be learning to live with the virus,” he said.

There have been almost 131,000 official recorded confirmed cases of coronavirus in France and an estimated 24,760 deaths.


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