Sharing my experience of the VTL to France
This is from a throwaway, and it’ll be long so hold on to your butts if you’re interested in what life is like outside Singapore!
At the airport
When you get to the airport at Changi one thing that struck me is that you do not need to check-in with TraceTogether. I had really forgotten what it is to just enter a building without all the faff. It felt… nice.
Getting to France was easy, you just need a vaccine pass (I had converted mine from Singapore which is all done online and is straightforward) and all the airport formalities are normal. That was before they required a negative test before Omicron hit.
The airport though, is completely dead. All shops were closed except the money changers and the 7/11. There’s no buffet at the lounge, you need to order, and the bastards really took the occasion to cheapen out on everything. I had the choice between 2 dishes and that’s it (chicken teriyaki and I forgot the other)
On the plane
Once in flight the staff was quite lenient with the mask rule. They’re just as drained by 2 years of this as you are, and besides you are eating right next to each other’s in a packed plane. Obviously, they can’t really force you to wear your mask when you sleep either.
On France’s side, I was really surprised that everyone was really following the mask indoor rule. I expected more chaos, but it was orderly. The immigration had absolutely no special formalities besides showing your vaccine QR code. And that’s it, you’re out in the wild no strings attached!
That’s really when you know a country has chosen the endemic route and truly mean it. Covid in France is talked about in the news, but on the ground, nobody really cares about it. People have just moved on. It was striking because France is currently being hit with a high number of cases and all the government did was basically close the nightclubs for four weeks. You remember what nightclubs are kids? Besides this, it’s business as usual. Yes, that includes 45000 people every other week-end at the Paris stadium, sitting without mask, singing songs, and getting happily drunk.
Moving around in France
It’s really shocking because there’s an outcry in France because of the vaccine mandate for restaurants. The implementation is also far more convenient than TraceTogether.
- You do not need to check in. You just enter normally, sit at your table, and the waiter will come and scan a QR code on your phone before you order.
- You can remove your mask as soon as you sit down. No putting your mask on between each bite bullshit.
- Some restaurants just don’t care and sometimes I was not even asked for my QR code.
- Buffet at the hotel? You bet!
Besides restaurant, there are no place that require you to show proof of vaccinations. Malls, local shops, offices, what have you: you are just free to go and move. You don’t know how amazing this very basic freedom feels and how hard it’s going to be to go back to traceforever now. Other interesting bits:
- No mask outdoors. People put on their mask when they walk into a mall or building. Some people choose to wear outdoors, I have seen a few.
- No group size limit. I was with a group of 40 people in a bar with no mask… Just like it’s always been.
- No curfew. In Paris bars close at 2am, well they still close at 2am now.
Back to Singapore
Going back to Singapore is hard. First, you have to deal with airport staff on France’s side which are completely lost with the amount of paperwork you need to show before boarding. Health declaration? Negative test? Wait you need a PCR – I had to show them the ICA website that says ART or PCR. Have you booked your PCR on-arrival? Plane will inevitably be delayed when some people couldn’t board. It’s a horror show at the gate.
Arrival at Changi is well organized. We have the efficient bureaucracy that we are accustomed to and we like. One thing that is annoying though is that they completely shut down the automated immigration gates.
You then do your PCR test and you then must isolate yourself until the results come back. This ruling simply kills any tourism alone, when I could just walk out of the airport in Paris without an on-arrival test, the difference is striking.
I am now going to poke my nose for the next seven effing days because ah gong said so.