Is France safe? Latest travel advice as coronavirus cases exceed 1,100 and large gatherings are banned

Is France safe? Latest travel advice as coronavirus cases exceed 1,100 and large gatherings are banned


FRANCE has banned all large gatherings over 1,000 people as coronavirus cases continue to soar, with more than 1,100 cases and 19 deaths.

Here is the latest advice if heading to France on holiday, including your flight rights and travel updates.

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What is the travel advice for France?

The French government has changed the large gathering ban from 5,000 people to 1,000 people, although the UK government has yet to update the latest travel advice.

They currently advise: "There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus originated in China, but cases have been confirmed in other countries, including France where there is an ongoing coronavirus outbreak across France.

"The government has introduced a range of measures including to limit large gatherings in particular those over 5000 attendees. You should contact the organiser of events or local authorities for further information."

The virus has circulated with greater intensity in some areas, notably the northern Oise and the northeastern Haut-Rhin regions.

Schools and nurseries in those areas will be shut for a 14-day period starting on Monday and the government have encouraged residents to "reduce their outings".

However there are currently no travel restrictions in place across France, and Brits are not being warned to self-quarantine when returning to the UK.

The French Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs is updating its travel advice for visitors to France.

As well as reminding people to regularly wash their hands, avoiding shaking hands or kissing on the cheek, a statement warns travellers without symptoms not to wear face masks.

It reads: "It is not recommended that you wear a surgical mask if you do not have any symptoms.

"Masks are not effective for the general public because they cannot be worn at all times and they are not necessary unless you are in close or long-term contact with someone is ill."

Can I cancel my holiday to France?

As there are no travel bans in France, airlines are unlikely to allow you to change your flights without a fee.

However, British Airways is cutting hundreds of flights, including to France, throughout March due to a drop in demand.

Travellers using the Eurostar are also to remain the same: "There are no travel restrictions in place across the countries across our network and we continue to operate our services as normal and our Conditions of Carriage continue to apply.

"We remain in contact with the authorities and, should guidance change, we will publish any further updates and contact customers as appropriate."

They advise to get in touch if you have been quarantined and are unable to travel, but that travellers should contact their travel insurance provider as well.

The only time that tour operators are required to give a refund on holiday packages is if the Foreign Office changes its travel advice for a region and turns it into a no-go area, which they have not done in this case.

Independent hotels are not even required to refund money in this instance, so if you have paid in advance and choose not to turn up then you will lose your money.

If the hotel is a large chain, it could be worth asking to change your stay to another location or delay your trip but they are under no obligation to grant this.

Experts have advised not to cancel holidays to Europe, as there is no more risk in the UK "than you are somewhere else".

If you are still concerned, here is everything to know about cancelling your holiday.

Disneyland Paris remains open, despite the large group ban, and has reassured concerned families that they are "following the development of the situation in close collaboration with health authorities".

The Louvre was closed for three days due to coronavirus, although has since re-opened, and the Eiffel Tower remains open.

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