COVID-19 Restrictions for On-Site Experiments at the ESRF


COVID-19 Restrictions for On-Site Experiments at the ESRF

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- Created : 14th January : restrictions for travel to and from non-European area countries - PCR test and quarantine required; curfew in place in France (18h - 6h)
- Update : 25th January : restrictions for travel to and from European area countries - PCR test required
- Update : 31st January : restrictions for travel to and from European area countries - PCR test also required for ground transport
; restrictions for travel to and from non-European area countries - travel is NOT allowed except for compelling reasons
- Latest update : 20th March : restrictions for travel within France - change to curfew hours and exemption certificate (attestation) required for departments in local lockdown.
- Latest update : 5th April : national lockdown in France, restrictions for travel within France. The ESRF remains open and operational for remote experiments. The presence of external users and short-term visitors on site is suspended until further notice.

1. Latest COVID-19 restrictions at the ESRF (30th March 2021)

From 3rd April - new national lockdown : the ESRF remains open and operational for remote experiments only. The presence of external users and short-term visitors on site is suspended until further notice. Once these restrictions are lifted, onsite users will be allowed back onsite within the limitations described below.

Remote experiments are possible and desirable, when appropriate, for all users, but onsite access is limited to users from countries within the European area (see further details below).

Until the current restrictions from the French Government are lifted, it is unfortunately not possible for users whose laboratories are in countries outside of the European area to come to the ESRF site for an experiment (ESRF member country states particularly affected are UK, Russia, Israel, South Africa and India). The onsite Guesthouse cannot be used for quarantine purposes.

Please note that intended beamtime for experiments impacted by these restrictions will not be lost if it can be taken before the end of the 2021 operation year (by end of February 2022). If the experiment permits, it should be carried out remotely, otherwise it will be postponed until later in 2021 if users are able to come on site by then. If there is a chance that the beam time cannot be used before the end of February 2022, users will have to reapply for beam time at the 10th September 2021 proposal submission deadline.

Users coming from within the European area may still come to the ESRF for experiments, but must be able to show a negative PCR test, taken within 72h of travel, to the French authorities on arrival in the country, and must absolutely restrict their movements onsite and not leave the site unless absolutely necessary (e.g. medical emergency, travel to/from home lab).

In general, for the coming runs 2 and 3 (April-May and June-July 2021),

  • Remote experiments should be carried out whenever possible;
  • When user presence on site is required, up to a maximum of 3 members of the external user team will be allowed to be present onsite, to improve the efficiency and success of the experiment, with the rest of the team joining and participating remotely. The number of onsite users must be kept to the strict minimum required to successfully carry out the experiment, i.e. if the experiment can be done successfully with one user onsite, only one user should come; if it needs two onsite, only two should come, etc, up to a maximum of 3 users.
  • In all cases, the maximum limit of users/staff allowed in a beamline hutch at any time must be respected at all times.

We will be very happy to welcome users back on site, but strict hygiene and social distancing measures remain in place and we kindly ask for your cooperation in respecting these rules before, during and after your visit.

Users should ensure that any formalities are completed in a timely fashion to allow them to arrive on the ESRF site in time for their experiment.

2. Latest COVID-19 restrictions in France (30 March 2021)

National, local and travel restrictions are constantly evolving so please ensure you are aware of the restrictions in place in France and in the Grenoble area at your time of travel, and ensure you are able to provide the correct paperwork and test results if required.

On the web page of the European and Foreign Affairs Ministry, the "European area" is stipulated as including all EU member states, Schengen countries, Andorra, Vatican City, Saint-Marino, and Monaco.

Restrictions for travelling to France from a non "European area" country

Travel to France from a non-European area country is forbidden, except for certain urgent and compelling reasons ("motif impérieux") of a family/personal, medical or professional nature. In such cases, people travelling to France from a non-European area country must :

  1. Complete, sign and provide the appropriate declarations as described here, and provide the associated justifying documents attesting to the important and urgent nature of the travel.
  2. Show a negative PCR test before travelling, AND
  3. Self-isolate for 7 days on arrival in France, AND
  4. Then take a second PCR test after those 7 days before being allowed to circulate freely.


Since 15 March 2021, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Singapore no longer require a compelling reason for travel. However travelers arriving from these countries must comply with points 2 to 4 of the procedure described above.

Restrictions for travelling to France from a "European area" country

Travel to France from a European area country is not advised unless absolutely necessary. People travelling to France from a European area country must show a negative PCR test, taken within 72h of travel, to the French authorities on arrival in France. All types of travel are concerned (air, train, bus, car, sea).

A quarantine period is not obligatory for travellers from a European area country, except in the case of travel outside of the European area in the month before arrival in France, although a 7-day period of self-confinement followed by a second PCR test is strongly encouraged.

Proof of essential travel is not necessary, but we still advise you to bring your experiment invitation with you.

In addition, please remember though to ensure you complete any obligatory travel documents required by the French authorities and the airline companies.

Restrictions for travelling within France

Starting from the evening of 3rd April, France will be in a national lockdown for at least 4 weeks that necessitates an exemption certificate for travel outside a 10km radius from home and between departments. The exemption certificate (attestation) required can be found here.


A nightly curfew is currently in place in France from 7pm to 6am : users who will travel in these hours must ensure they carry with them a completed exemption certificate (French and English versions available) as well as written proof of their experiment invitation and their travel tickets.

During curfew hours while staying at the Guesthouse, users must not leave the site for any other reason than one of the reasons stated on the exemption certificate. If the curfew is not respected, a fine of 135€ will be imposed by the French authorities. Outside of the curfew hours users can leave the site and move around freely in the Grenoble area.

More information on restrictions in France is available here.

More information on restrictions for travelling to France is available here (in English - not always up-to-date, check date of last update on the page) and here (in French, normally up-to-date).

3. Travelling back to your home country

Users are responsible for checking restrictions related to their travel back to their home country. This includes checking the necessity to quarantine, to present a negative COVID-19 test, to complete obligatory travel documents required by the authorities of the user home country and the airline companies.

4. Useful information concerning PCR and antigen tests

Antigen tests

If needed, users can get an antigen test done free of charge on the EPN site by our Medical Service, during working hours (8am to 11am and 1:15pm to 4pm on week days). Please ask your local contact for the telephone number of the Medical Service so you can make an appointment with the works Doctor.

PCR tests

The ESRF cannot provide PCR tests on site. There are multiple laboratories in Grenoble where users can get a PCR test done ( The closest one to the ESRF is:

Oriade Noviale Berriat
Tram stop Saint Bruno on tram B, just before the train station.
Open from 9:30am to 11am and from 2pm tp 5pm on Monday to Friday
   and from 8:30am to 11am on Saturdays.

It is not necessary to make an appointment in this laboratory prior to the visit, but waiting times may be long so you are encouraged not to wait until the last minute.

Tests can be done without a French social security card and without a doctor's prescription. However, in this case, the test will cost around 65 €. ESRF reimbursed users may request an ESRF contribution for the cost of a PCR test up to a limit of 70 € per test by filling in a reimbursement claim and providing an invoice or receipt. The test must be directly related to onsite presence for a user experiment.

The results of the PCR test should be provided by the laboratory within 24 hours. Users will have to communicate their mobile phone number to the laboratory to be able to access their results using the link sent to them by text message.

5. Information for onsite users

Please find updated information here.