Advice

COVID-19 and your holiday in Morzine, Les Gets or Avoriaz this winter

Image: Jacquie Cutler - @jcutlerphotography

The details regarding your trip to Morzine, Les Gets or Avoriaz this winter are changing constantly. In an effort to try and break down the rules and regulations, we’ve divided the article that previously appeared on this page into two separate pages; this page relates to in-resort details, and another page HERE is dedicated to travel between the UK and France. We’ll do our best to keep everything as up to date as possible in the hours, days and weeks to come.

UPDATED PM 18/01/22

BEFORE YOU GET STUCK IN TO THIS ARTICLE, please note. The information included below does not exist in one place; we’ve scoured several websites, translated multiple documents and cross-checked the information that follows as much as possible. The information you’ll find below is our interpretation of the new rules and we’ll keep them updated as best we can. You’ll find some handy links at the end of this article.

On Monday 24th January 2022 the current Pass Sanitaire digital health pass will be replaced by the Pass Vaccinal. The difference between the two is quite explicit – only those with fully-vaccinated status can access the Pass Vaccinal required to visit restaurants, bars, ski lifts and other large venues as well as cross-country transport. Here’s how that works for the different age groups:

In summary…

– Aged 18 or over – You’ll need two vaccination certificates, or a combination of a vaccination certificate and proof of recovery to generate your Pass Vaccinal via the TousAntiCovid app. If your second vaccination was more than seven months ago, you’ll also need to add a booster vaccination certificate to the app to validate your Pass Vaccinal. Note that this period between your second jab and your booster reduces to five months from 15th February 2022.

– Aged 16-17 years – You’ll also need two vaccination certificates, or a combination of a vaccination certificate and proof of recovery to generate your Pass Vaccinal. Booster jabs are not a requirement for this age group.

– Aged 12 years, 2 months -15 years – Children in this age group need a Pass Sanitaire (also generated in the TousAntiCovid app) to access restaurants, ski lifts, etc but this is a simplified system. ‘Fully vaccinated’ for this age group in France is defined as two vaccinations, however if your child has had just one vaccination, you can top this up via daily anti-gen testing at a local pharmacy to fulfil the requirements of a Pass Santiaire. More on this below.

– Aged under 12 years, 2 months – no health pass or daily testing requirements for in-resort activities, etc.

If you’re looking for information on travel to France from the UK, see our article HERE.

On 18/01/22 the British Embassy in Paris provided the following graphic to help explain the travel and in-resort vaccination and testing requirements for British tourists. Note that this graphic is already slightly out of date as it doesn’t account for the new Pass Vaccinal requirements, which are due to be implemented in the next few days.

The Pass Vaccinal

As the name suggests, for your Pass Vaccinal to be valid, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as per the French schedule – that’s two vaccinations plus a booster administered between 5 and 7 months of your second jab if you’re aged 18 or over. The ‘one infection = one dose’ rule still applies and this means that if you’ve previously recovered from COVID-19 (this recovery needs to be more than 11 days ago and less than 6 months ago to count), this counts towards the overall number of doses you’ve received. If you’re eligible for a booster shot in France (that’s all adults aged 18 and over here in France), then this is also required to keep your Pass Vaccinal activated. If you’ve not received your booster jab within seven months of your second dose, your Pass Vaccinal will be invalid (or expire if you already have one).

The time schedule for these vaccinations to be valid within your Pass Vaccinal is as follows:

– 7 days after the 2nd injection for double injection vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca) ;
– 28 days after injection for single injection vaccines (Johnson & Johnson);
– 7 days after injection for vaccines in people with a history of Covid (single injection).

Travellers vaccinated in the UK can import the NHS QR code confirming their vaccination status into the TousAntiCovid app. (Note that this app is available in both French and English and is very easy to use). This will then generate your Pass Vaccinal.

You’ll be asked to present your Pass Vaccinal as you access ski lifts, bars, restaurants, cafes and venues. You can also present a digital or paper NHS certificate showing your full vaccine status if for some reason you cannot access the app.

(NOTE* It’s the vaccination certificate that includes a scannable QR code that you’ll need for both the TousAntiCovid app and to scan on entry to ski lifts, restaurants, bars, etc.)

On 15th February 2022, the seven month period in which to receive your booster jab decreases to five months. You will therefore need to upload a booster jab certificate to the TousAntiCovid app within five months of your second vaccination to order to keep your Pass Vaccinal active.

Children aged 16-18 years

The rules relating to the Pass Vaccinal are also applied to those aged 16-17 years (until you’re 18 for the avoidance of any doubt). Within this age group you must be fully vaccinated to access a Pass Vaccinal required for ski lifts, restaurants, bars, etc. However, ‘fully-vaccinated’ in this age group in France is two vaccines (or recoveries), without the requirement to have a booster jab, as per above.

Children aged 12 years, 2 months -16 years

The original Pass Sanitaire was already a requirement for children aged 12 years and 2 months to 17 years of age, whether vaccinated in France or the UK and many French children in this age group are already double vaccinated. It was confirmed on Sunday 16th January that children aged 12 years, 2 months to 16 years (rather than the previous 17 years) can obtain a Pass Sanitaire, rather than a Pass Vaccinal.

So what does this mean for children aged 12 years, 2 months and 16 years of age? To obtain a Pass Sanitaire they will need to upload two vaccination certificates to the TousAntiCovid app to generate their health pass. They’ll need to show this as they access ski lifts, bars, restaurants and large venues. 12 years, 2 months – 16 year olds can prepare their Pass Sanitaire in advance of their holiday and they do not need to rest each day in resort if they have received two vaccines.

If your 12 years, 2 months to 16 year olds have yet to receive two vaccinations, they can use the daily testing work-around, as per the original Pass Sanitaire requirements. Each day they’ll take a test at a local pharmacy in resort, then use the negative test result to ‘top up’ their health pass to access the ski lifts, restaurants, etc. See below for in-resort testing arrangements.

*Note – at-home tests are not acceptable for the Pass Sanitaire.

(Note that children in this age group do not require a third / booster jab for their Pass Sanitaire).

Equivalency Certificates

If your 12 years and 2 months – 16 year old has one vaccination plus one recovery (and is not eligible for a second jab in advance of your holiday), but the positive test result confirming this recovery comes from the UK, take note. Positive test results from some countries outside the EU (including the UK), are not accepted as a vaccine substitute here in France. Some of our followers have reported obtaining an equivalency certificate from one of our local pharmacies (priced at €36), which can then be scanned into the TousAntiCovid app of your 12-17 year old, giving them ‘fully-vaccinated’ status and therefore a Pass Vaccinal. Although this is not official policy (we’ve researched this extensively), the actual experiences of tourists over Christmas and New Year week seem to differ. Many have successfully obtained a ‘vaccine equivalency’ certificate from a local chemist for their children so it seems that it’s at the discretion of the pharmacist.

In-resort testing

Should you develop potential COVID-19 symptoms while on holiday, or if you need to take a test for your return travel (this is not currently a requirement for the UK), all three resorts are set up to provide a high volume of anti-gen tests each day.

You’ll also need to know about in-resort testing if you need to top-up the Pass Sanitaire of your 12yrs, 2mths to 16 year olds each day.

Note that tests in our valley vary in price between €23 and €30 (it’s more like €30 at the weekends)

Morzine:

The Grande Pharmacie de Morzine in the centre of the village has the capacity to perform up to 1500 anti-gen tests each day between the hours of 8.30am and 8pm. They’re open every day during the winter season. In effect, this makes it Morzine’s mass testing centre for holiday makers. The Grande Pharmacie de Morzine also has the ability to double its capacity to 3000 tests per day during peak times and requires just two hours notice to upscale its testing capacity, moving to Morzine’s Palais du Sport.

You’re advised to pre-book your in-resort anti-gen testing requirements in advance of your holiday using the Doctolib website. We’ve broken down the process for you below – note that it’s slightly arduous but entirely worth the time, giving you peace of mind in advance of your holiday. Walk-in tests are also available.

Note: Currently only the Grande Pharmacie de Morzine is available to book on Doctolib. For booking arrangements at the pharmacies in Les Gets, Avoriaz and St Jean d’Aulps, please read on.

  • If you don’t speak French, you might find it easier to add the Google Translate extension to your browser. Here’s how you do this. 
  • Find the Grande Pharmacie de Morzine page on the Doctolib website. Or tap here.
  • Alternatively, if you’d like to take your test at the pharmacy at the bottom of the rue du Bourg in Morzine, tap here.
  • On the right hand side of the website, your “Motif de consultation” (reason for consultation) is a “COVID-19 screening”
  • Use the calendar to select the time and date for your test
  • You can then create a very simple account of DoctoLib, complete your details and you’re done. (Some readers have reported a problem when confirming their telephone number at this stage. Others have discovered a work-around by confirming the email address first, then re-adding a telephone number. When you add your number, use the format 00447xxxxxxxx and you’ll receive the confirmation text in 1-2 minutes)
  • You’ll receive an email confirming your appointment
  • You’ll need to repeat this process for each test that you need to take.
  • After your test, if it’s negative, you’ll receive a certificate with which to update the TousAntiCovid app
  • If your test returns positive, you’ll need to proceed to the medical centre in Morzine for a PCR test
  • Note that it’s not necessary to book your test in advance. There’s a drop in service too.

The Pharmacie du Bourg in Morzine also has the capacity to undertake 50 tests per day. These are not available to book in advance. Pharmacie du Bourg is open every day from 8.30am to 7.30pm.

In Morzine, PCR tests are undertaken at the medical centre at the nurses station, which you’ll find on the first floor of the Cabinet Médical. You’ll find directions HERE.

Avoriaz:

Between the Pharmacie des Portes du Soleil in Avoriaz and the medical centre in the village, Avoriaz has the capacity to perform 500 anti-gen tests per day.

The pharmacy is located in the centre of the village and is open 10am – 12.30pm and 3pm – 6pm each day.

The medical centre in Avoriaz will also perform a large volume of anti-gen tests each day on a walk-in basis. The medical centre is open between 9am and 6pm each day.

Les Gets:

We’re unsure of the testing capacity of the pharmacy in Les Gets but they have assured us that they’re able to perform enough tests each day to cope with demand. It’s not possible to book tests in advance and the pharmacy is open 9am – 12noon and 4pm – 6.30pm every day during the winter season. The cost of each test in Les Gets is €25.01 per test.

Other Measures

There are a few other measures that you should be aware to help you plan your holiday.

– If you’re taking the ski train to resort, you’ll need to produce a Pass Vaccinal as you board your train.

– From the age of 5 and above, face masks are required in shared bubble lifts and in lift queues as well as all indoor spaces. These should be medical grade face masks rather than neck gators or buffs. You do not need to wear a face mask while you’re skiing. The resort of Les Gets have developed their own face mask / neck gaiter that meets these requirements. You can order online HERE. 

– You do not need a Pass Vaccinal or a Pass Sanitaire to visit shops and supermarkets, but you will need to wear a mask. This is compulsory.

– In various places across the ski lift network you’ll be asked to produce your Pass Vaccinal / Pass Sanitaire. You’ll also be asked to show your health pass at the time of purchase or collection at the lift pass office when you collect your holiday lift passes.

– Face masks are also compulsory in the centre of each of our villages.

FAQs

Can I do a self-test in my chalet / apartment for my children to top up their Pass Sanitaire each day, instead of visiting the pharmacy?

We’re still researching this one. Some official websites state that “Self-tests carried out under the supervision of a health professional are recognised as evidence for the “health pass”, but not for border crossings between countries, notably within the European Union.” How that relates to Randox (etc) tests brought from the UK to France and undertaken via video link is uncertain at the moment. (If anyone has had any success with this scenario, please get in touch!)

What kind of mask must I wear to access the ski lifts?

Skiers must wear a surgical mask or a category 1 fabric mask (AFNOR SPEC S76-001 certification). Regarding neck gaitors, only those that are filtering and approved will be authorised as an alternative to masks. You do not need to wear a mask while you’re skiing.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 while in resort?

If you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and you test positive while in resort, you’ll need to isolate for seven days. However, if you take a further PCR or anti-gen test (available at most pharmacies in each village) on day five of your isolation and it is negative, you can then end your isolation immediately. If you continue to return a positive text, you must continue to isolate until day 7, at which time you can leave isolation with or without a negative test result.

Children under the age of 12 years who test positive for COVID-19 in France, and regardless of their vaccination status, must isolate and test on day five. If they no longer have symptoms and produce a negative test result, then they can end isolation.

If your holiday ends before your isolation period, you should contact your accommodation provider immediately to let them know. According to the terms and conditions of most accommodation providers, it’s then your responsibility to find alternative accommodation for the duration of your isolation, if you cannot for any reason stay in your current accommodation.

As for the rest of your ski group, as long as they’re fully vaccinated, they do not need to quarantine with you. However, they probably should (this isn’t a government requirement) take an anti-gen test before heading out into the resort, just to be on the safe side.

As a precaution, if you’ve tested positive at any point during your holiday, you should always let your accommodation provider know before you leave, so they can take extra precautionary measures while cleaning your accommodation.

Useful Links

– Information from the French Government regarding the sanitary situation in the country can be found HERE.

– Latest news regarding travel to France from various countries can be found in English HERE.

Additional research provided by Sally Lee Duffy & Toby Webb

COVID-19 and your holiday in Morzine, Les Gets or Avoriaz this winter
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