French urged to holiday at home not abroad

Paris (AFP) –


The French government is strongly discouraging citizens from taking foreign holidays this summer due to the coronavirus but people can already start booking vacations at home in France in July and August, the environment minister said on Sunday.

Ecological Transition Minister Elisabeth Borne said new information about how France would continue easing its lockdown would be announced this coming week but emphasised that people could already start to make plans.

"Everyone can begin to reserve their holidays. We will be announcing the new rules during the week," she told France Inter radio.

After the initial easing on May 11 of France's lockdown to combat the coronavirus, the French can still only venture a maximum of 100 kilometres (60 miles) away from their homes.

The government has set June 2 as the date when the next stage of the easing is to begin.

"From now, we can start to reserve our holidays for the months of July and August. For June, things will be made clear during the week," she said.

The government's decision to allow peak season domestic tourism -- including in France's overseas territories -- is a major boost to the embattled tourist industry.

But Borne added foreign trips should not be on the cards for the French this year.

"We are absolutely not suggesting that the French reserve their holidays abroad. This year, the idea is to holiday in France," she said.

France's neighbours Italy and Spain have announced plans to reopen their borders and have indicated they are ready to welcome tourists from abroad.

But travel to and from Britain is set to be complicated after London announced controversial plans to enforce quarantine for all travellers from abroad, with very few exceptions.

The French interior ministry said Friday it regretted the British decision but was ready to take reciprocal measures when the move comes into force.

The coronavirus epidemic is gradually becoming less intense in France but officials have warned that the danger is far from over.