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France in late August – having 2nd thoughts

My wife and I are scheduled to go to France in late August but are now concerned and not sure whether we should go through with it in light of the Delta variant.

We are both vaccinated and are in our early 40s so we are not THAT afraid of actually getting severely sick. What concerns us the most is the requirement that one needs to get a negative COVID test in order to get back to the US. I keep hearing the news of a decent number of vaccinated people testing positive nowadays even when they don’t have any symptoms, so we are afraid of just being stuck in France and unable to go back, which will be quite stressful.

We would greatly appreciate the thoughts of others on this forum regarding all this. We also really wish US would stop requiring negative tests for vaccinated travelers but seems like that’s not going to happen.

Posted by
1247 posts

You have answered your own question: if it is stressing you out...don't go. France in August can be hot and crowded if people are hoping things are already normal again. Witness the crowds at National Parks and the Beaches in USA.

Posted by
4261 posts

We are 60 and going to France about the same time. We tend to be very cautious by nature. We are vaccinated and have no concerns about travel. I guess I don't hear about lots of people testing positive in spite of the vaccine. Be very careful of your sources. I also don't think I want to sit back and wait another year or so. I think COVID will be around for quite a while. The COVID test requirement could change. COVID requirements change almost daily. However, at your age, it may feel more reasonable to wait another year. Also, if it is stressing you out so much, it may not be worth the trip.

Posted by
5549 posts

Many countries require a negative test either to enter or returning home. It’s sensible, as your vaccine only gives you around 95% protection and as not much is known about protection from the Delta variant, I would imagine that negative tests maybe around for some time.

In the U.K., most of those getting Covid are your age group. I haven’t seen any updated stats, but a few weeks ago when the Delta variant first appeared, of the 42 Delta deaths, 12 were people that were 2+ weeks after their second vaccine, which is a high proportion. In the U.K., we need 3 negative tests to travel to and from most countries in Europe, which adds about $1,000 per couple to the price of a holiday.

If you are concerned, postpone the trip, otherwise you may spend the entire time fretting and not enjoying it.

I went to Spain in October and my return flight was changed 7 times which was stressful and overshadowed the holiday, which resulted in being 3 days longer than originally booked. If you aren’t flexible on travel dates, I would wait until next year.

Posted by
7193 posts

I am going there in two weeks on an out door oriented trip covering Mont Blanc, Swiss alps and the Dolomites. If you are afraid don't go. The pandemic is not over infections are up here so I am glad the USA requires the negative test to return.

Posted by
23 posts

Jazz+Travels,

I disagree about the utility of a negative test to return. The Delta variant is already widely prevalent in US (it makes up the majority of cases in LA where i live). Also, the risk of infecting others on a plane is quite low, especially as presumably most will be vaccinated as well. So i don't see a point of preventing vaccinated citizens from coming back to the country just because their test may be positive.

I find it ironic and kind of annoying that US has been less strict than EU about basically everything EXCEPT this one thing, which again i don't think does much good. What US should be doing would be to create vaccine passports like in Israel and some European countries, which would incentivize more people to get vaccinated. Unfortunately it wont happen so I expect EU vaccination rates to go way above ours in the near future, and we will have comparatively more cases notwithstanding these travel restrictions.

Posted by
23 posts

Jennifer, per the stats I saw a vaccinated individual is about 8 times less likely to die than someone non-vaccinated. Thats why i think the cases in UK have been exploding but the deaths are still relatively quite low. What seems to be happening is that the Delta variant has been quite effective in breaking through vaccines but the resulting illnesses (if they get sick at all) for vaccinated people are usually - though of course unfortunately not always - mild. This is why i would be willing to risk travelling if only i could be guaranteed a return back without complications.

Posted by
7193 posts

You're over analyzing this. The bottom line is if you are afraid don't go. You are only in your early 40's France will still be around later when you find conditions to your liking. I agree it could be stressful to some thinking about arranging to get that test to come back, But since we have seen the rules changing week by week maybe by the time you or I fly the rules will have changed again where you don't need a test. But I am set to not count on that

Posted by
3829 posts

With the Delta variant, a surge in cases seems increasingly likely to me by the end of summer. I would not worry about the testing requirements, but if there are, say, new restrictions on eating out, it could make travel more complicated.
If travelling is stressing you out, understandably so, then don't if you don't have to (especially if the financial loss is minimal).

Posted by
1422 posts

i would be more concerned about a jittery government suddenly shutting down again after you've paid for your trip.

Posted by
4261 posts

@Ashley, we were going to bring the masks that we currently have, none of which is a N95. Is France requiring specific masks? For a while this past winter spring, we were using a paper mask covered with a fabric mask, are the N95s preferred in France? and Spain if you happen to know that.

Posted by
27735 posts

I'd recommend you look at what your airline is offering, that was the cheapest for us.

Nick - are you doing the 4 tests so you can get to day 5 and get released from your quarantine?

Posted by
8405 posts

To answer Jules m, blue surgical masks are what you'll see most. My last stay in France for five months, I never put on my kn95 I had with me. I ditched all my pretty cloth masks as they were too hard to breath, walking everywhere. We leave again soon and all I'm taking is two boxes of 50 blue surgical masks.

Everything is opening, except in two departments that are maintaining partial restrictions due to the Delta variant spreading among the unvaccinated. MDs are talking about a possible wave if we aren't careful, but the government is upping the pressure on people to get vaccinated, while they make it easier and easier to do so.
It's also been suggested that only the unvaccinated need to lock down, or you could imagine the repercussions if everyone has to lockdown due to those who refuse to get vaccinated, when Moderna, Pfizer, and J &J have all found their vaccines effective against the Delta. It's a developing situation.

Posted by
27735 posts

except in two departments that are maintaining partial restrictions

which two Departments, Bets?

Posted by
7604 posts

I know one of them is Les Landes — I hadn’t heard of a second one, so don’t know that off the top of my head.

(Les Landes is down SW of Bordeaux)

Posted by
27735 posts

thanks Kim.

With all the horrible case numbers previously in Nord and Pas de Calais I figured it would be somewhere up towards us.

Posted by
23 posts

AshleyMIA, totally agree that July would be better, but as it is July already its too much of a short notice for us, especially as the places we want to go seem pretty booked up already for the month. We booked before the Delta variant thinking the farther out it is the safer it will be as more people will be vaccinated. Hindsight is 20-20 but i can't help feeling frustrated that we ended up booking for exactly the time period when the next wave is now predicted.

Posted by
4261 posts

When you think about it, that there are several vaccines that are PROVEN to be 95% effective against preventing serious disease, is quite amazing. Few vaccines have this kind of efficacy rate.

Posted by
8405 posts

Ashley, BMF hypes up everything with its continuous alarms and debates. Over on FR2, they are talking about is how happy everyone is leaving on vacation and how the hotels and campgrounds have even more reservations than in 2019. Perhaps reality lies in the middle.

The BMF-alarm is helpful if it frightens laggards into getting vaccinated. Since you are vaccinated, you’ll be fine, especially with your good mask-wearing and other cautious habits.

It is amazing, JulesM. A TV program explained that the virus structure was fairly simple and then the scientists had been working on the technology for decades, waiting to be able to deploy it on a new virus. Now if we can just get this vaccine sent to p the developing world, too.

Posted by
23 posts

Re vaccine effectiveness, as I mentioned above it seems its not as effective at preventing infections from Delta, but it is still quite effective at preventing severe illness and death. Thats why cases keep scyrocketing in UK despite having a higher vaccination rate than France, but their hospitalizations and deaths are still low. Based on the trajectory, i would expect France in late August to be about the same as UK now, both with respect to vaccination rates and the high number of cases. . . which is why the testing requirement to come back to US is worrisome to us.

Posted by
23 posts

Tom, hopefully we will have a booster by 2022 but yes, uncertainty about next year is part of why we are so torn about going this year!

Posted by
23 posts

Just also wanted to add that in the last 10 days cases have tripled in LA, which has been hit with Delta earlier than most parts of the country and where most people have gotten mRNA vaccines.

Even more alarmingly, they've also gone up in Israel, which is the most vaccinated country in the world and which exclusively used Pfizer. I've read a report where an Israeli health official said that half of the people testing positive have been fully vaccinated, but most of them are asymptomatic.

Posted by
23 posts

You are right, i only meant that the majority of people in LA who have gotten vaccinated received mRNA vaccine as opposed to J&J, just like elsewhere in US. 51% of population fully vaccinated does mean about 65% of adult population is, but yes, i certainly wish that number would be much higher in LA and the rest of the country. US is still ahead of France (where less than 40% are currently fully vaccinated i believe) but i believe within a month or so they will zoom past us.

Posted by
4261 posts

@Bets, they had a head start on a COVID mRNA vaccine because they'd already done a lot of work on it for previous SARS.

Posted by
1016 posts

LA county is only 51% fully vaccinated, That means 5 million people are not. Of course the Delta variant is going to tear through that population.

As of yesterday, the US as a whole was "only" 47% fully vaccinated. If vaccine rate alone predicted Delta variant spread, one would expect LA county to do slightly better than average.

Posted by
258 posts

In your 40s...you have plenty of time. My wife and I are 70 and 72 so we're headed to Brittany and Paris on 31 July. We're mostly doing a driving tour and don't plan to spend a lot of time on the Metro while in Paris. Moderna seems to be effective against Delta and we're in pretty good shape. Also, we babysit grandchildren during the school year so we need to travel in summer. We have several vouchers for British Airways and if we don't use one this summer, we'll need to use two next summer.

Posted by
2606 posts

As the incidence of the Delta variant rises exponentially in the United States, far outpacing most of mainland Europe, I can see how a number of influential EU member states (i.e Germany, maybe France) might consider removing American tourists from their respective "green lists", as is the case with the United Kingdom, or even consider reinstating an outright EU ban, in the coming months. July maybe even August still looks ok, but if I were an American, I would not be seriously planning any holidays after September, for 2021.

Posted by
1016 posts

Nick's point is interesting. Pre-vaccination, a spike in case numbers was a reliable predictor of spikes in hospitalizations and deaths. In a population with relatively high vaccination rates, this appears to no longer be the case. It will depend on governments recognizing this change as to whether travel and other social restrictions are reimplemented in response to a rise in only case numbers.

Posted by
2606 posts

It's not a binary switch pre vs post vaccination, the vast majority of countries in Europe are not even past 40% fully vaccinated, it's going to be a long process until most have some kind of protections. In Barcelona, cases have quadrupled since May. Magda Campins, the head of epidemiology at the Hospital Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona sums it up pretty well -

“The explosive increase in cases worries me – not for the youngsters themselves, but rather because these people will interact in their homes with their parents and grandparents and not all of them are vaccinated nor do they have both their vaccination doses. If these young people are not prudent, in the coming days we could see their parents admitted to hospital.”

Campins also pointed out that the delta variant of the virus – first discovered in India, and which is up to 60% more contagious according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) – is also having a role in the spread in Catalonia. Last week, the regional administration estimated that the strain was responsible for more than 30% of the new infections, a percentage that Campins is now putting at more than 50%.

One can read more here: https://english.elpais.com/society/2021-07-01/coronavirus-infection-rate-among-20-29-group-spikes-nearly-40-points-in-a-day-putting-regions-on-alert.html

Posted by
23 posts

Eric, LA having a slightly higher vaccination rate will be offset by it being more crowded than most of the country (despite the stereotypes).

I agree with you that a spike in numbers may no longer be as strongly correlated to spikes in hospitalizations and deaths as it was before, and that the governments should recognize that fact. Thats why it annoys me why US is stubbornly keeping a requirement of a negative test to come back to the country - it just makes very little sense to me.

Posted by
1016 posts

Kizut, I agree with you. If the poster I was referring to had mentioned population density (or any number of other factors) instead of vaccination rates, I would have kept quiet :-)

Posted by
23 posts

AshleyMIA, do you know how the the situation is in Paris specifically? I would think it was hit so hard in the past there must be at least some degree of herd immunity there compared to less dense areas.

Posted by
7604 posts

All I know is that the news yesterday was that the Delta variant now represents a majority of cases in three French départements — the Ile de France, Nouvelle Aquitaine, and Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.

Posted by
15 posts

"Over on FR2, they are talking about is how happy everyone is leaving on vacation and how the hotels and campgrounds have even more reservations than in 2019. Perhaps reality lies in the middle."

Bets can you please tell me what "FR2" is? :) I'm trying to read all I can in these forums for England and France as we've got a trip booked 2021 (last 2 weeks of August in UK and first 2 weeks of September in France). Feeling like there are other forums I'm missing? Going back and forth every day as to whether we should cancel. Thank you!

Posted by
8405 posts

National TV channel 2, also called France2 or FR2.

The government wants people to reserve, go on vacation within the country, and spend money.

Posted by
2017 posts

I decided that the UK was just not going to work this year. So I changed my plane ticket and now fly directly to Paris and I fly directly home from Paris. I would’ve liked to have gone for to London for a few days but it’s July 8 and they have not given any clue if they’re going to let me in without quarantine and testing and I don’t mind testing but an eight day quarantine doesn’t work for my vacation schedule

I consider doing another country but like others on here have decided might not be a good move in light of what’s going on. So I’m only doing one country this trip

Posted by
2017 posts

Late August

Things look like they might change by then but ….airfare is a lot higher now than when I was making my final changes

Posted by
23 posts

Same as us, but it seems late August may be a really bad time to go. Delta spreading as it is, plus all the Parisians will go on vacation in August and then converge back to the city, which seems inevitable to lead to a big spike.

Posted by
2017 posts

Kizut

Obviously this Delta variant Is causing you a significant amount of stress

I I honestly don’t understand why you would ask me when I was going on vacation just so you could respond that was a bad time to go because I might get Covid? That just seems kind of weird personally,

I’ve read the statistics, I’ve seen the studies, I work in healthcare. Unless they shut the borders I’m going. Because I know that next year it’ll be the theta variant and the year after that it’ll be the Mickey Mouse and so forth and so on. No one ever said they were going to stamp this thing out. We just have to get the risk to a level that we’re comfortable with. I’m at that level now. You may not be but that doesn’t mean that I’m right and you’re wrong . It just means we have different tolerance for risk

Posted by
23 posts

Carol, I apologize if my post came out wrong. I was just thinking outloud because thats the time we are booked for, and I certainly did not mean to imply that you going during that time is in any way wrong.

Posted by
8405 posts

Reading through this thread, Carol has expressed my thoughts very well. Thank you.

I'm vaccinated and in France. I have a trip from France to Rome planned for October and will go if the two countries are open. If not, I'll stay in France. There is no reason to project into the future. Stressing about it won't change anything.

Your OP was about being vaccinated but testing positive and having to stay in France until you test negative. 1 It's unlikely. 2 you would take a PCR to show you were false positive. 3 It would be only a few days. If this is stressful, your vacation will no longer be a pleasure, and your decision is made.

Posted by
100 posts

I’ve been following this thread closely as we are going to Paris the last three weeks in August. I’m typically risk averse but feel comfortable traveling to France right now. My husband, teen daughter and I are fully vaccinated, and we will take the usual Covid precautions we do at home (masks inside or near crowds, physical distance when possible, wash hands and so on). Should we find ourselves in a situation where there are too many people around (like the metro or a market) we will just leave. We have pre-booked our antigen test for three days before we return to the US, and should one of test positive (as Bets said it’s very unlikely) we will confirm with a PCR. Covid is not going anywhere for a while and those who wish to travel must be willing to take some risk. Would it be disruptive to our lives and expensive to contract Covid in another county? Absolutely. But it’s a risk we are willing to take. It’s perfectly okay if you are not ready yet!

Posted by
23 posts

Amy, would you mind sharing where you pre-booked the antigen test?

Re risk comfort, we would actually be comfortable going to Paris right now as the numbers there are still not bad in the grand scheme of things. We are currently debating whether to try to rebook for end of July or just stick to late August and just hope the numbers don't go up as high as UK or Spain.

Posted by
100 posts

Of course! I scheduled appointments at a pharmacy near the apartment where we are staying on the website below. A few people on this forum have mentioned the site before. I logged in on my computer; the website automatically translated to English. I set up an account with only my email, name and phone number (add 00 1 before your area code). I was able to add my husband and daughter to my account, and scheduled appointments for all three of us. You can choose antigen or the PCR. Many people have said you can just “walk-in” to any pharmacy — which I am sure is true — but I feel more comfortable with an appointment.

https://www.doctolib.fr/

Posted by
252 posts

Watching Macron's speech but I jumped on in the middle. It appears as though "health passes" are going to be required from August to enter certain bars, restaurants, shopping centers, and events showing that you are fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid, or have a recent negative test. Nothing yet (unless I missed it) on what this will entail and how/if tourists can obtain it.

Posted by
845 posts

Can things go bad? Sure! Agreed it's all in the risk one is willing to take. While we are in the planning stages of our trip, and have found great airfare, we haven't jumped in the pool quite yet, waiting to see how the first few weeks of open borders go. But, if all goes well, we are in. I agree with the posting above that you never know what strain comes next, and what will be for years to come. We can certainly understand your hesitancy, but again, as many above have stated, it's all in what you are comfortable with.

Recently in Texas, an outdoor wedding in an open-air tent took place. Six vaccinated guests came down with the Delta variant of Covid. Two had Moderna vaccines, two Pfizer, and two the Indian made Covaxin. All six had the classic symptoms of COVID, fatigue, cough, body aches, and fever. The ones with the Moderna and Covaxin lost their sense of taste and smell. It was thought that the Delta variant was introduced at the wedding by two guests who had traveled from India and tested negative before their flight but developed symptoms in the US. They were the ones with the Covaxin vaccine. One became severely ill and was hospitalized, the other died. Guests with the Moderna and Pfizer were not severely ill, just mild symptoms. The reason for bringing this up is, there are no guarantees. You don't have any idea whose path you may come across on your travels, who were diligent with their testing before traveling, and what may happen. We all just have to make the best decisions for ourselves, protect ourselves in crowded areas, and use that sanitizer and masks when necessary. We all know the drill by now. COVID is still out there, and circumstances can change in a minute for any country that has recently opened up. I am glad the U.S. is still requiring negative tests for vaccinated travelers. We need to all do our part in squashing this nightmare once and for all. That being said, we wish everyone who has booked a trip or is currently traveling, safe travels, and can't wait to read more trip reports!

Posted by
23 posts

JR, agreed with most things in your poste except the utility of negative testing for vaccinated travelers. Air travel is relatively safe due to high air circulation, so the chances of anyone vaccinated infecting others on a plane are very very small.

What WOULD be much more helpful is America adopting measures similar to ordered by Macron today, such as mandating vaccinations for essential workers and even more so requiring a health pass for public activities. Our vaccination rates have plateaued so unless the government steps in and strongly incentivizes people to get vaccines like they are doing in Europe, we will suffer from COVID more and longer than Europeans.

Posted by
1218 posts

As a healthcare worker, my hospital system is mandating vaccinations for workers except for religious and medical reasons. I know many other systems are moving in that direction after the courts ruled for the Houston hospital that fired unvaccinated workers.

We've lost sight how polio, measles and most other types of infectious diseases have been nearly eradicated due to herd immunity from inoculations. But Americans also have a different view of "freedom" than the French.

Posted by
46 posts

Has anyone looked at what a back up plan might be if they do test positive on re entry? I’m not sure what that consists of other than you can’t come home until you test negative which is roughly how long?

Also is everyone getting the re entry tests at the airport! My hotel suggested biogroup land which is nearby and although the site does say it gives the test it’s unclear as to whether an appt is required. Due to a last minute change from the UK we are staying in La Defense if anyone has a recommendation. We didn’t want to trek the hour back to CDG if we don’t have to.

Posted by
7604 posts

Just go to any pharmacy with a tent outside that says COVID TESTS HERE. They are all over Paris. You can get an antigen test and get results back in 15 minutes. It costs €29.

Posted by
2017 posts

If you test positive in Paris you don’t get on the plane to come home. Here’s my plan
1. Go get PCR test to confirm results
2. If #1 is positive, call insurance company
3. Find MD for next steps
4. Find hotel with room service (might as well go to someplace cheap by airport )
5. Move in to hotel until #3 gives release