France will allow fully vaccinated travellers from most countries to visit with a negative Covid-19 test from next week.
Those who are unvaccinated from all but a handful of countries will have to quarantine for seven days, provide a negative test result and proof of a compelling reason to visit.
The new rules were announced on Friday as France – which the UN’s World Tourism rankings said was the world’s most-visited country in 2018 – attempts to revive the struggling tourism sector after emerging from its third lockdown.
From June 9, countries will be organised into three categories, with vaccinated visitors from “green” nations accepted with no entry requirements.
All EU nations are green, as well as seven other countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
The UK, US, Middle East and most of the rest of the world are classified as “orange” – but vaccinated travellers from those destinations still need a negative PCR test to enter. Those who haven’t been inoculated against Covid-19 can only enter for valid reasons and must self-isolate upon arrival for a week.
Red-zone countries include Brazil, India and South Africa and severe restrictions remain in place.
France only recognises the vaccination status of travellers inoculated with those shots approved by the EU – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, junior minister for tourism, told BFM TV the new rules should protect the country from imported infections.
“We have to reconcile the principle of mobility with the principle of health security,” he said.
“Nothing would be worse than to fall back into an umpteenth wave of Covid in coming weeks or months because we haven’t taken sufficient precautions.”
More than a year on, the pandemic continues to foil European travel as the crucial summer season approaches.
On Thursday, the UK announced it would remove Portugal from its green list of quarantine-free countries less than two weeks after lifting the ban on foreign travel.
The UK's red list was expanded to include Egypt and Bahrain.
In France, the move to ease entry comes as its vaccination rate accelerates amid a concerted effort among EU countries to establish immunity passes.
However, restrictions on travellers from the UK remain because of the spread of the Indian variant, now known as the Delta strain.