Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Christophe Castaner, Minister of the Interior, and Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister of State for Transport, attached to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition (18 March 2020) [fr]
Given the situation of unprecedented gravity created by the coronavirus crisis, the President of the French Republic has announced very strong measures, which involve a drastic reduction of movements for us all, in France, in Europe and internationally. He therefore announced the closure of the external borders of the European space for 30 days from 17 March.
French citizens and nationals of the European Union, the Schengen Area and the United Kingdom are authorized, along with their spouse and children, to enter the national territory in order to travel to their homes.
Nationals of other countries, meanwhile, cannot enter France in the next 30 days, although there are exceptions for those who reside permanently in France, for example. However, we are not banning exit from the national territory to anybody at all.
Concerning French citizens who have their permanent residence outside the European space, we recommend, for the next 30 days, that they avoid international travel insofar as is possible, even to return to the national territory, unless imperative reasons require such travel. If certain persons deem it necessary to return to France, such as for health reasons, they should get in touch with our embassies and consulates as soon as possible.
Several EU Member States and Schengen Area members have re-established border controls and activated confinement measures. Concerning French citizens who have their usual residence outside France but within this European space, we therefore recommend that they avoid travel within Europe, even to return to the national territory, unless compelled to by imperative reasons. If you have to cross several land borders in order to return to France, direct returns by air should be used wherever possible.
For French citizens currently on temporary travel abroad, we recommend that they take all necessary measures in order to return swiftly to France. To help them, the Ministry responsible for Transport has asked airlines to keep as many routes to France open as possible and to apply reasonable prices. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and all our diplomatic and consular posts are fully mobilized to obtain the authorization of special air routes and for these special air routes to be operated through commercial flights. These initiatives have already borne fruit in several places.
A comprehensive global mechanism to allow our citizens who so wish to return to France by air will be put in place very quickly, in liaison with Air France. It will be based on an adapted air transport plan for the whole world, based on local urgency and priorities, and will enable everyone to book a ticket back with an airline. The technical details of this mechanism will be set out by the end of the week to our citizens in difficulty, by Air France and by our diplomatic and consular network. Despite the gradual suspension of most flights worldwide in the coming days, we will therefore be able to offer reasonable commercial solutions, in liaison with the airlines involved, to allow our citizens to return home.
In this unprecedented crisis, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry responsible for Transport are totally mobilized.