What it is like moving from Australia to a country that “lives with the virus”?
Six weeks ago I landed in France with my partner and kids, after an eerily quiet trip from Sydney on empty planes and through empty airports, and stepped out into warm summer temperatures.
We were moving back to our country of origin, a decision largely impacted - in its timing at least - by COVID-19.
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France was just emerging from its third lockdown, following countless weeks of various curfews and restrictions, and combined with the approaching summer holidays there was a sense of excitement and freedom in the air.
I left New South Wales a couple of weeks before the current outbreak, when COVID cases were pretty much zero and there hadn’t been any lockdowns since December 2020, so I was a bit nervous about what life would be like in a country that didn't go for the “zero case” approach.
It turns out some things are very different. And some are pretty similar.
People are coming and going in and out of the country
You need to have “pressing grounds for travel” in order to enter France, but that's unless you're a French citizen, or coming from the “green zone” (countries in the European Union or countries with few COVID cases, including Australia).
That means the borders remain open to quite a few people.
Upon landing no one asked us for the paperwork that was supposed to include our pledge to quarantine, our quarantine address and country of origin.
Fearing a last minute rejection or change in regulation, I had printed multiple copies for every family member… which all remained in their folder.
No one seemed to register where we were coming from or where we were going next.
The only paper that was of interest was the results of our PCR tests, which we’d taken 48 hours prior to flying.
Flying in from across the globe in COVID turned out to be a lot less hassle and paperwork than getting a French mobile number a few weeks later.
Quarantine is… different
Travellers coming to France from the “green zone” don’t need to quarantine at all.