Vaccinated South Africans can now visit France – but relaxing in a cafe will be tough


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  • Fully vaccinated South Africans can now travel to France without undergoing a mandatory quarantine period.
  • South Africans will be required to present their vaccination certificates to airlines and border control authorities, along with a sworn statement.
  • But France’s “sanitary pass” – or sanitary pass – which is required to access events or places could complicate matters for tourists.
  • South Africa’s vaccination certificates are not yet compatible with the digital health pass and, in the meantime, tourists will likely have to retest for Covid-19 every three days.
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France has opened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors, allowing travelers from South Africa – still considered a high-risk country – to avoid quarantine. But a controversial new law restricting access to bars, restaurants, cafes, museums and cinemas to people with valid health passports could complicate the tourist experience.

As in much of Europe, travel from South Africa to France has been severely restricted for most of the year due to the prevalence of the beta variant of Covid-19 recognized for the first time. end of 2020. Following in the footsteps of the UK and most European Union (EU) states, France imposed strict travel restrictions on South Africans in April.

Travel from South Africa is limited to French residents, French nationals, their spouses and children. Even with a negative PCR test result, these travelers were subjected to a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

These travel rules were updated in June, when France introduced a traffic light system – similar to that used by the UK – to determine restrictions according to a county’s Covid-19 risk profile specific. South Africa has been placed among the Red List countries, which, until Sunday, required all travelers – regardless of their vaccination status – to self-isolate for at least seven days.

In an effort to safely reopen the ailing country’s tourism sector, France recently announced a exemption for all fully vaccinated travelers. The new regulations, which came into force on Sunday, allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter France without having to provide a compelling reason or undergo a quarantine.

Travelers are considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 28 days after receiving the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and seven days after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. South African travelers will need to present their vaccination certificates to airlines and border control authorities, along with a sworn statement certifying the absence of symptoms of Covid-19.

And although fully vaccinated South African travelers are now allowed to enter France without facing quarantine, a health pass – or sanitary pass – is required as proof to access social gathering points. This health pass was first implemented in June and was required to attend social gatherings that hosted more than 1,000 people, such as concerts and sporting events.

From Wednesday July 21, the health pass will be mandatory to access all events or places welcoming more than 50 people, such as theaters, cinemas, museums, concert halls, festivals, stadiums and amusement parks. From the beginning of August, the health pass will be compulsory in cafes, bars, restaurants and shopping centers.

These new rules have sparked demonstrations in the streets of France. Nearly 114,000 protesters gathered to rally against mandatory health card laws over the past week, according to France24.

The health pass, which can be scanned via the French mobile application Tous Anti Covid, checks a person’s vaccination status and the results of a PCR or an antigen test. Being fully vaccinated with a dose approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) allows free movement to events and venues, while a negative test result is only valid for 72 hours.

For travelers from the EU, consolidating a vaccination status with the French health pass is simple thanks to the EU digital health pass which offers a recognizable and scannable QR code. Likewise, the French government has confirmed that the UK’s NHS vaccination certificate will be recognized in France as a health pass.

For travelers from other countries, checking vaccination certificates and test results with the French health passport is more complicated. Although the Tous Anti Covid app works on all smartphones, it is not yet compatible with certificates from other countries.

It is not yet clear how South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine certificates will be verified in France and whether all sites will accept physical documents presented by non-European tourists. In the meantime, tourists can acquire a health pass valid every three days by undergoing a PCR test – which gives negative results – which will be verified by a QR code on the Tous Anti Covid mobile application.

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