France has Europe's third-highest COVID rate – as easyJet boss 'sees no reason' to ban holidays there

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
PARIS, March 20, 2021 -- People with face masks walk on a street in Paris, France, on March 20, 2021. French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday announced
People with face masks walking in Paris. France has the second highest coronavirus infection rate in Europe. (Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua via Getty)

France now has the third-highest rate of coronavirus cases in Europe – as the boss of easyJet said it could be one of the countries Britons will be allowed to travel to in five weeks’ time.

Figures from Oxford University’s Our World in Data website show that as of Tuesday, France had a seven-day average of 556 infections per million people.

In Europe, this is behind only Cyprus (622 cases per million) and Sweden (587 cases per million), and compares to the UK, which has the second-lowest rate in the continent with 25 infections per million.

The comparison across Europe can be viewed on this chart...

(Our World in Data)
(Our World in Data)

…while the worsening situation in France itself can be seen on this chart, which shows how cases are on the increase even as restrictions are imposed across the country.

(Our World in Data)
(Our World in Data)

All this suggests it is hugely unlikely Britons will be allowed to holiday in France this summer, despite the comments of easyJet boss Johan Lundgren on Wednesday morning.

Last week, the government announced plans to reopen international travel from 17 May at the earliest, with ministers set to introduce a “green” list of countries that will remove the need for quarantine upon return to the UK, as long as COVID-19 tests are taken before departure and before returning.

Watch: Labour slams announcement on foreign holidays (from Friday)

When asked if he expects destinations such as France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey to be on the green list, Lundgren told reporters: “Yes, by the time we open up for travel on 17 May and if the government continues to have the plan in place on the two-test system.

“I wouldn’t see reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there."

He also dismissed the planned testing requirements, saying: “We really believe that, if you’re in the ‘green’ category, there should not be any need of any testing at all because it would be considered low-risk.”

Lundgren urged Downing Street to “specify very shortly on what those countries will be”.

Read more:

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Earlier this month, England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty warned the UK is going to have to take a cautious approach to COVID for up to two years.

Of international travel, he said: “You don't worry about any country that's got less [virus and variants] than you have, but you do worry about any country that's got more than you have."

Watch: How England is leaving lockdown