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French returning from abroad asked to place themselves in Covid-19 quarantine

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian leaves the Élysée Palace following the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, October 21, 2019.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian leaves the Élysée Palace following the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, October 21, 2019. © Benoit Tessier, REUTERS

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday said that as of May 20, French citizens and residents returning from abroad will be asked to place themselves in voluntary coronavirus quarantine.

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“As of Wednesday, we will ask all French people … returning to France and people who reside in France to put themselves in a voluntary two-week quarantine,” Le Drian told broadcaster LCI, adding that the request will only be made for those who return from countries outside the European Union.

The measure will not affect non-EU foreign visitors as the bloc’s exterior borders remain closed in a bid to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

There has been no quarantine for citizens or residents returning to French soil until now.

The new measure will rely on “individual responsibility”, Le Drian explained. Returning travellers can choose whether to observe the autonomous lockdown at home or another venue.

In March, the European Union banned foreign nationals from entering its Schengen area, an open border zone comprising 22 of 27 member states, with exceptions for medical workers and essential travel.

Last week, it set out plans for a phased restart of travel, urging member states to reopen internal borders while recommending that external frontiers remain shut until at least the middle of June.

“Concerning the internal borders, we have reciprocity agreements with neighbouring countries and one can imagine that progressively, provided the easing of the lockdown works and the pandemic does not resume, we will be able to reconsider these closure measures,” said Le Drian.

“I think that progressively from June 15, we will be able to start a generalised easing, at least that is what I hope.”

France’s main Charles-de-Gaulle airport, north of Paris, has installed thermal cameras to detect arriving passengers with a high fever, one of the symptoms of coronavirus infection.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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