As the City of Light enters into year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parisians are adjusting to a new way of life and bracing for more changes ahead.
After battling the ebb and flow of COVID surges for a long and difficult two years, Paris is once again rattled by the emergence of a new variant, but rather than throwing in the towel, locals are forging ahead and staying optimistic. Cases are reaching unprecedented peaks, but city-wide health measures are set to be lifted by mid-February. For travelers, rising rates of infection in the French capital raise one important question: to go or not to go? Check out our pre-departure guide below for a comprehensive look into Paris post- (or should we say mid-) pandemic.
Vaccinated travelers from the United States are permitted to fly into France without having to quarantine upon arrival, and those without a vaccine must present a negative PCR or antigen test prior to departure. Many international airports offer rapid testing for travelers, and the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports also provide vaccinations Monday through Saturday.
Since September 2021, a health pass involving digital or paper documentation of full vaccination, a negative result on a PCR or antigen test within 24 hours, or a positive Covid result test of more than 11 and less than 6 months has been accepted for travel throughout Paris. Starting January 24, 2022, the health pass will be replaced by a vaccination pass which will require those 16 or older to present proof of vaccination to enter public spaces such as bars, restaurants, and cinemas. New vaccination passes may also be accompanied by photo identification in some businesses throughout the city. Negative tests will no longer be accepted throughout France—only proof of vaccination will be accepted.
The European health pass, called the ‘EU Digital COVID Certificate’ (available in all EU Member states as well as in Switzerland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, and Iceland) is valid throughout France. Travelers from outside of Europe who have been vaccinated can present vaccination cards from their native countries, and European health passes can also be requested in authorized pharmacies throughout France for a maximum fee of €36.
Despite tallying an average of 320,000 new COVID-19 cases each day over the past week, France is planning to ease most of its capacity restrictions starting February 2. Under the new regulations, all stadiums, arenas, and other large-capacity venues will be allowed to operate at full capacity again, and many work-from-home ordinances will be lifted, though still strongly encouraged. On February 16, Parisians will be allowed to eat and drink in stadiums, movie theaters, and on public transport, and bargoers will no longer be confined to tables. Nightclubs will also be allowed to reopen, though masks may still be required, and venues will likely require proof of vaccination prior to entry.
No restrictions on travel within France have been implemented, so railways, buses, and other forms of public transportation will be unaffected by tourist traffic. On December 31, Paris reintroduced an outdoor mask mandate as Omicron caused a surge of infections, and new mask regulations have not yet been announced in relation to the February changes.
Though Paris is eager to get back on track after two devastating years of fluctuating COVID-19 cases, the most recent Omicron surge proves that the end is still far from sight. Those planning to travel to France should do so with caution, not only to ensure personal health and safety, but to negate the intercontinental spread of the coronavirus and its infectious variants. Whether you’re hopping on the next flight across the pond or crossing your fingers and waiting for a post-Omicron slowdown, Paris is opening its doors and welcoming back travelers with open arms.