New border controls came into force in France on Sunday as part of a massive effort to limit the spread of Covid-19 and avoid further nationwide lock-in.
After a slow start to the vaccinations, the French health authorities reported that one million people had received coronavirus vaccination by Saturday.
But stubbornly high new prices for infections, hospital stays and deaths in Covid caused the fear that France might need another complete shutdown, which would be the third, causing even more devastation to business and everyday life.
From Sunday, arrivals in France from EU countries by air or sea must be able to give a negative PCR test result obtained during the last 72 hours.
The requirement had already been applied to arrivals outside the EU since mid-January.
EU travelers entering France country, including cross-border workers, do not need a negative test.
About 62,000 people currently arrive at French airports and ports from other EU countries every week, according to Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari.
Paris’s largest international airport Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle has set up test centers in a terminal designed for flights within the EU to allow arriving passengers who failed to get a test in their country of origin to get one before passing immigration.
One million vaccinations in France
The French health bureau reported 23,924 new cases of Covid in the previous 24 hours on Saturday, and 321 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the French death toll to 72,877.
The total number of admitted Covid patients was 25,800, of which almost 2,900 were in intensive care.
Prime Minister Jean Castex also said on Saturday that one million people in France had received at least one anti-Covid jab, four weeks after launching the vaccination campaign, focusing first on people over 75 in nursing homes and health workers over 50.
Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said she was “reasonably confident” that France would reach its target of vaccinating 15 million people by the end of June and adding more than 1.9 million vaccine doses had been received so far.
Health Minister Olivier Véran, meanwhile, warned that if current measures, including a nationwide daily curfew starting at 6pm, prove insufficient, another lock-in cannot be ruled out.
“We need the curfew to show results,” Véran said.
“At best, we will succeed in reducing the pressure from the epidemic. If not, we will not wait until March to act,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.
France went into lockdown twice in 2020, the first time between March and May and then October to December.