All passengers from Brazil, India, Chile, South Africa, Argentina and Guyana will be subject to a 10-day quarantine, the government confirmed on Thursday.
Other countries, such as South Korea or Israel, have implemented mandatory isolation for passengers entering their territory from the start of the pandemic.
The majority explain that they are only adopting this measure today because of legal difficulties and a lack of means to control compliance with the quarantine.
On March 12, 2020, Emmanuel Macron judged that the coronavirus had “no passport” and that border closures, if they proved to be “relevant”, could be decided “on a European scale”. A year later, France is finally preparing to impose a mandatory ten-day quarantine for travelers from Guyana, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India .
The measure, which comes into force on Saturday, aims to slow the progression of certain variants of Covid-19 in France.
Compulsory isolation on arrival on the territory has already been imposed in some countries from the start of the pandemic.
In France, with a few exceptions - in particular the French repatriated from Wuhan at the very start of the epidemic and confined to Carry-le-Rouet - such a measure had not yet been deployed.
Why has France taken so long?
Passengers from the countries concerned will be subject to quarantine "decided by prefectural decree", "whatever the result of their test" upon arrival in France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin detailed Thursday. . In addition, "for the most part, only French and European nationals having their main residence in France will be able to enter the national territory", specified the tenant of Beauvau.
"This measure was included in an ordinance adopted in March 2020, which the opposition contested", argues Anne Genetet, Member of the French Abroad and spokesperson for the group La République en Marche in the Assembly.
The Constitutional Council however ruled on this subject in May 2020, considering that compulsory quarantine could be imposed in the name of health, if however it was strictly supervised.
"We can therefore impose isolation, but this must go through a prefectural decree," continues the parliamentarian, citing a recent example.
“Two weeks ago, the 85 passengers on a plane from Brazil who wanted to enter France were all tested on their arrival.
The two positive people were placed in quarantine, by decision of the prefect.
By Saturday, a decree must also be published in the Official Journal specifying the quarantine conditions, the Interior Ministry said.
Lack of means
If the legal tools existed, the late implementation of this measure may also be explained by the difficulty in enforcing it, due to a lack of means of control.
“There were already isolation measures for passengers arriving from a country outside the European Union [via a pledge on honor to self-isolate for seven days].
But we had no real means of control or possibilities of sanction in the event of non-compliance, ”we admit to Matignon.
"To verify this, there is not a police officer behind each passenger", also declared the Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune, on April 14, on France 2.
But for the five countries subject to compulsory quarantine and Guyana, Gérald Darmanin said Thursday that travelers can be checked by the police and gendarmes, at any time of their isolation, except between 10 a.m. and noon.
More dissuasive fines have also been put in place, from 1,000 to 1,500 euros in the event of non-compliance with the quarantine, against 135 euros currently.
This mandatory measure could in the future be imposed on travelers from other countries, depending on the appearance of new variants of Covid-19, and be reinforced.
The government intends to introduce into the draft law on exiting the state of emergency regime, a provision "aimed at further strengthening this quarantine system".
Coronavirus: Curfew, back to school, quarantine ... The executive organizes deconfinement
Coronavirus: The TousAntiCovid application will certify tests and vaccination