Gone are the days of buying a ticket, getting to your flight on time, and then setting out to see the sights on a trip to Europe. While I’m grateful we are able to travel to France once again (as there are still many countries we cannot enter), these days a visit to a European country requires several more steps and hoops to jump through than it did in the past, and things will be different once we’re there.
France has sorted countries using a traffic light color scheme based on the how well COVID is being handled in each country. Although the United States is currently a “red” country, Brett and I are still welcome to come to France for tourism or any other purpose because we are fully vaccinated and have received our boosters (and may hopefully get another before departing), and are willing to be tested in the 48 hours preceding our flight’s departure. If a traveler is unvaccinated, even if they have had COVID and might have immunity, they have to show a compelling reason why they need to come to France from the U.S. Those reasons are extremely limited. A traveler must be a French national or 1) previously enrolled in a French program in France; 2) already have a long-stay visa; 3) work in a necessary job in the transportation sector; 4) transiting through France for less than 24 hours; or 5) work in a diplomatic or consular position. Without one of those reasons, if you’re not vaccinated you cannot enter France.
One of our very first tasks up arrival in Strasbourg will be to take our vaccination cards and test results to a pharmacy that will provide us with the Pass Sanitaire, a QR code that proves our vaccination status (not every pharmacy does this either). The code is loaded our phones and will allow us to enter markets, museums, restaurants, trams, trains, and so forth. The cost for the Pass is 36 Euros each (approximately US$41). I’m hoping the most difficult part of this will be finding the closest approved pharmacy to where we’ll be staying in Strasbourg.
Another possible hurdle for us after arriving in Paris will be making our connecting flight to Strasbourg without the Pass Sanitaire. From what we can find now, it appears we can get on the next plane with our passports, negative test results, and vaccination cards, but we haven’t found a definitive answer to this, especially since the connecting flight will be a different airline which might require the Pass Sanitaire. There are three pharmacies in DeGaulle airport, and we may be able to the passes done there if necessary. Otherwise we’re going to have to spend a day or two in Paris taking care of this before heading to Strasbourg.
Mask wearing is de rigueur and enforced in France, and only surgical quality masks are considered adequate; cloth masks are not (we have a stockpile of KN95 masks that will be going with us). If you’re not masked and don’t have a Pass Sanitaire with you, getting into in pretty much anywhere is not going to happen.
We will follow the lead of the French government as to what’s required as things still continue to change. It all seems so very complicated, but we know we can and will manage. We’ll be out and about more there than we’ve been here – there is much to see and do and we don’t plan on stayed holed up in our apartment. We’ll figure it all out.