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Travel restrictions for Monegasques cause a 'tit for tat'

Tensions are growing as travel restrictions between Monaco and France tighten, now with a negative PCR test requirement.

Kevin.B, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

By this point in the pandemic, we are used to having our travel and general liberties restricted, but the ban on travel into France has left residents of Monaco struggling to understand the logic.


On the 1st of February, France restricted Monegasques to a maximum distance into France of 30km from the border for a maximum period of 24 hours. Anyone wishing to go further or longer needed a negative PCR test or an imperative reason for doing so.


The Monegasque authorities had not posed such restrictions on those entering the principality from France, most notably for the thousands of French workers who enter the country each day. But the move sparked frustration for residents of Monaco, who are used to travelling freely through an invisible border to the nearby towns of the French Riviera.


After complaints about the unfairness of the policy, last Thursday evening the Alpes-Maritimes senator, Dominique Estrosi-Sassone, announced she had written to the French government to ask that they reconsider the measures.


The French government responded on Saturday by relaxing restrictions so that Monegasques can travel across the entire Alpes-Maritimes region, beyond the 30km threshold, which had previously excluded Cannes.


While a welcome development, it was still not considered enough by Monaco, who retaliated on Monday by applying the same restrictions to French residents coming into the principality, requiring a negative PCR test if residing outside the Alpes-Maritimes region.


The Monday following the new restrictions, 169 vehicles were refused entry to the principality.


The French Ambassador to Monaco, Laurent Stefanini, said in an interview given to Nice Matin that the reasons for the stance taken by France were the already worrying levels of Covid-19 in the Alpes-Maritimes region and the south-east of France, and to avoid another lockdown. The same rules apply to other countries bordering France like Italy and Belgium.


He also notes Monaco’s more relaxed rules than France, which could allow the virus to spread more easily. Things are to be easier for Monegasques to travel through France as the principality will offer more PCR tests.


Responding to the irritation of Monaco residents who face disruption to their lives, Mr Stefanini did reflect he had hoped restrictions would have been eased further than they were, and pledged to continue to ‘put pressure on Paris’.


Patrice Cellario, Monaco’s Interior Minister, does not see the Republic’s decision with the same logic. Instead, his view is that it is disrespectful of the Franco-Monegasque Convention, which allows free movement between the two countries.


-Kimberley Mannion

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