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France Ends its National Lockdown

Plenty of restrictions remain in place from Tuesday with lifts not turning in ski resorts, but now people can travel to the mountains. Locals have been skinning up, though some districts have banned touring as so many are heading uphill and threatening extra pressure on hospitals.

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It is not a full end to lockdown as, though the rate of increase has fallen, the number of Covid-19 cases remains stubbornly high in France.

It wanted cases down to 5,000 per day, but they are at 11,533 over a 24-hour period.

This is down from 32,095 a month ago.

Out of 100,000 of population there are 125.8 new cases over a 7-day period.

Ski lifts will stay closed until at least January 7th as lockdown ends, as we reported last week, France confirms closure of ski lifts as date set for January opening.

It is now possible to travel to resorts in the Alps or Pyrenees though, along with the ski lifts, other infrastructure will remain closed.

International travel and domestic travel to different regions of France will now be possible for non-essential reasons.

Tourists and second homeowners can again visit France, and people can travel to see relatives and friends in other parts of the country.

There are no restrictions on entering France if you are coming from within the EU, the Schengen zone or, until December 31st, the UK.

As things stand at the moment people from the UK will not be allowed to enter France when the Brexit transition period ends and countries with similar levels of Covid-19 as the UK are refused entry.

See out detailed story here with Brexit implications for travel in Europe:

There remains quarantine for people coming from France to UK, though a new test and release scheme comes into force on December 15th.

It is thought a number of people, both within France and outside, will now head to the Alps and the Pyrenees as the French lockdown ends.

The ski lifts may not be turning but ski touring, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are allowed.

The areas around Chamonix report a huge increase in interest.

“60cm of fresh snow is good for boosting moral and sports shops are buzzing with customers collecting their gear,” said Claire Burnett from the Chamonix Tourist Office.

“To enjoy the powder it’s uphill first and, if the weekend is anything to go by, then ski touring and split-boarding are most definitely in vogue.

“At Le Tour it was very much a family affair as hundreds skinned (or hitched a ride) up to Charamillon and Balme along the designated ski touring itinerary.”

Chamonix Valley, France

Chamonix Valley, France

Here at PlanetSKI we know the area well and were touring there a couple of seasons ago.

Touring in Le Tour

Touring in Le Tour

Touring in Le Tour

Touring in Le Tour

The sport is becoming hugely popular.

And it is not just in the Chamonix Valley.

One of our regular readers from France is Nadine Chevalier who lives in the Isere region of the French Alps.

“I did ski touring in Vercors and it was just amazing with sweet deep snow,” said Nadine.

And she sent us these pictures to prove her point.

Vercors, France

Vercors, France

Vercors, France

Vercors, France

Vercors, France

Vercors, France

However, we understand that some municipalities have banned it as it threatens extra pressure on already stretched hospitals through injury and accidents.

Back in Chamonix, cross-country pistes are open in Chamonix, Argentière and Vallorcine.

There are 44km of prepared trails and free night sessions every Thursday.

Chamonix Valley, France

Chamonix Valley, France

In the valley there are a number of winter hiking and snowshoeing trails, making a total of 40km for the entire valley.

Hidden gems such as Trélechamp, Les Granges, the Berard Waterfall, the Lac Vert, the Deer Path are a few of the backcountry spots.

Chamonix Valley, France

Chamonix Valley, France

With lockdown lifting hotels and self-catered accommodation are open for business, as too are shops, public services and markets.

Restaurants and bars remain shut.

Take-away, home delivery and private chefs are the new norm from many until the restaurants re-open in January.

The standard health recommendations remain in place, – physical distancing, hand-washing and avoiding kissing or handshakes, particularly with people in high-risk groups such as the elderly.

Anyone caught breaking the rules still in place faces a €135 fine.

Chamonix Valley, France

Chamonix Valley, France

Here are the full details of the new regulations from The Local, France.

The Rules that Change

No more attestations

This is the big one. Currently every trip outside the home requires both an essential reason and an attestation permission form, but from Tuesday this restriction is lifted and people are allowed out for any reason, for as long as they like. Filling out the form before leaving home will no longer be necessary.

Socialising

Trips out to visit friends and family have not been counted as ‘essential’ reasons during lockdown, but from Tuesday this will again be possible, although the government is advising people to keep gatherings to a minimum. Six adults is the recommended maximum for gatherings, although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Travelling

Both international travel and travel to different regions of France will again be possible for non-essential reasons, so tourists and second home owners can again visit France, and people can travel to see relatives and friends in other parts of the country or other countries.

There are no restrictions on entering France if you are coming from within the EU, the Schengen zone or (until January 1st) the UK, but plenty of countries have restrictions in place for people arriving from France.

Sport for children

Under 18s will again be able to take part in sports in indoor areas, although sports centres and gyms for adults will remain closed until January.

Nursing home visits

Visits to the country’s Ehpad nursing homes will again be possible, albeit with a strict health and testing protocol in place.

But as some restrictions lift, a new one is being added.

Curfew

The curfew covers the whole of mainland France and runs from 8pm and 6am and everyone must stay at home between these hours.

There are only a few reasons to be out during curfew, and these are stricter than the rules for leaving home during lockdown. Shopping and exercise are not accepted reasons for being out (although dog owners can still take their pet out for a late-night walk and comfort break).

People who are travelling to France and arrive at or after 8pm are allowed to travel onwards to their final destination, but should keep tickets handy in case of a police check.

Everyone who is out during curfew hours will need an attestation, this is not the same form as the one required during lockdown, but a new form which will be available from December 15th. It will also be available via the TousAntiCovid app.

The curfew will be lifted on December 24th, but not on December 31st.

The rules that remain in place

Cinemas/theatres/museums

Cultural centres had been due to reopen on December 15th, but this has now been delayed in light of the health situation. These will now stay closed until at least January 7th.

Bars/restaurants/cafés

There was never any intention to reopen these in time for Christmas and they stay closed until at least January 20th.

Ski resorts

Ski resorts also stay closed until January. Although it will be possible to travel to resorts in the Alps or Pyrenees, ski lifts and other infrastructure will remain closed, largely ruling out skiing holidays.

Masks

The mask rules remain the same – masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces in France, while many areas also have local rules in place mandating masks in the street and other outdoor public places as well – these include all of the big cities and around 400 smaller towns and communes.

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