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Covid-19: in the face of variants, are we protecting our borders enough?


Variants oblige, France has tightened its border control measures. In airports, such as at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle where we do not

"He's a fucking ***!"

This is the comment of a spectator, powerless in front of dozens and dozens of meters of tail winding through the anti-Covid screening center at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle.

The route tastes of torture, this Sunday morning on the arrivals floor of the airport of terminal 2F, for passengers leaving 11 to 12 hours of flight, coming from Brazil, Argentina and especially from India where a new variant strikes the country.

The arrival on French soil is a mille-feuille of regulations, depending on the nationality of the traveler and where he comes from. After months of flexibility or laxity, depending on the point of view, France has toughened its tone since January with the request for a PCR test of less than 72 hours from any foreign country and the implementation of mandatory antigenic tests on arrival. They are now systematic for the countries most at risk (those mentioned above, as well as South Africa and Chile) and random for the others.

For Allan and Apolline, disembarked at 6:40 am from Delhi, a martyred city, the journey took a little over two hours, without a hitch.

"In India, we only had to show a PCR test when we left our luggage in the hold," says the young woman.

We wouldn't even have presented it if we had only had one piece of hand baggage, because it was not even requested when boarding.

Then, on arrival, we had to do an antigen test, provide proof of address and sign a prefectural order obliging us to respect 10 days of quarantine.


"We were all on top of each other"

After suspending links with Brazil for six days in April, the French authorities introduced these reinforced measures for the five countries most at risk and Guyana. During this period, the prefecture of the place of isolation is responsible for carrying out checks, with a fine of 1,000 euros in the event of non-compliance.

"We will remain confined, because we do not want to infect our families and loved ones and we always have the doubt to introduce this new variant", continues the young man who works in the aerospace industry in India.

Being a French national is considered a compelling reason, necessary for all arrivals from a non-EU country.

“We came back of our own free will, but other French people were repatriated by their company,” explains the couple.

Our flight was full.

We were confined to an expatriate district and we were not particularly affected, but we heard about the very difficult situation in certain specific areas.


Travelers returning from risky destinations should be patient when going through the screening center.

LP / Philippe Lavieille

In the screening area, the situation is clearly tense following the almost simultaneous arrivals of several targeted flights, a little over an hour after that of Delhi: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Bangalore (India) . In this area of ​​several hundred square meters, the lines get longer, we wait frozen in a stopped escalator, we settle for a few minutes on a stopped luggage belt. A loudspeaker spits out instructions and numbers in French and English. Once the test is done, you must wait another 30 minutes for the result to be obtained.

“We were all on top of each other, there is nothing to take a meter of space, deplores Louis, released after 2h40 in line, after a month's return to Brazil with his grandfather.

During my visit, there were 6 positive people from India and 2 from Brazil.

I heard a customs officer tell one of them that she was positive.

They were put aside together, in a space with about fifteen places.

We're all huddled together next to them… It's a lot of stress.


"It's a time bomb"

These conditions ulcerated Denis, a Versaillese who is expecting his son to return from Belo Horizonte after a six-month study trip: “It's bordering on fault, the passengers of all risky flights are mixed up for three hours. They are asked to lower the mask to take the test. We know why we're going to find them at the hospital. It's a ticking time bomb. "Questioned on this point, the Ministry of the Interior, which governs controls, replied that" audio messages and signage put in place by Aéroports de Paris, in conjunction with the Regional Health Agency, tell passengers to respect a distance of at least 1 meter "and that" the employees of associations approved by Civil Security remind these instructions as well as that of the wearing of the mask. "

Denis, a regular traveler, has himself tested on several occasions the more flexible system reserved for passengers in the European area: “It is much more serious in Italy or Spain where, for example, we must provide information in a computerized manner before the trip and not on a loose leaf on the plane.

Montse, a young woman with long brown hair, has just landed from Catalonia.

As foreseen by the measures, she only had to present a piece of identification and a PCR test.

“It could have been a fake,” she admits.

It's more or less the same in Barcelona, ​​except that my temperature was taken on arrival last time.


Audio messages and signage set up by Aéroports de Paris tell passengers to keep a distance of at least 1 meter.

LP / Philippe Lavieille

Same remark from Habib (

the first name has been changed

), who returned from the Comoros after family mourning and faced the crowds (all flights are currently concentrated in two terminals): “In Moroni, we go through a disinfection airlock and take our temperature.

Here, this is not the case.

"The temperature detection gates, set up at the start of the health crisis, are still active at Orly, but no longer at Roissy since the control of the PCR tests, the airport told us.

For arrivals outside the Schengen area, house arrest is limited to 7 days and a declaration on honor.

"I'm going to try to isolate myself, but I also have to work, then ..." breathes the Seine-et-Marnais, relieved to be spared the passage through the screening area where "an uncle spent 4:30 last week".

The art of dodging controls

Shadai, a Belgian student returning from Mali, also got off without a hitch.

She admits to having dodged control and the long wait on her last trip: “I was returning from Dubai via Ethiopia and all the passengers on the flight had to be tested.

But many have fallen through the cracks.

As I saw that there were largesse, I took advantage of it too.

It's everyone or nobody.


This Sunday is therefore everyone, for passengers from high-risk countries. And for Maxime, 23, things get very complicated. “He has just been tested positive, breaths Carole, his mother, devastated. Yet he did a PCR test two weeks ago, another three days ago, and an antigen yesterday. All negative. "Equipped with an FFP2 mask given by the authorities, the young man is subjected to a PCR test, the result of which is not yet known. A little over four hours later, the prefecture signs its exit slip.

“It does not change much for him, who had to remain isolated anyway, except that the follow-up will be even more vigilant, notes Carole. On the other hand, it will allow us to be draconian, whereas we would have been less attentive after his last three negative results. “Thus, the family took to the road to Lille, carefully masked, the open roof open, and placed Maxime in isolation on his arrival, undoubtedly avoiding an increased spread of the virus in the family.

Source: leparis

All life articles on 2021-05-04

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