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


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

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- Update: 9th June: the lockdown restrictions in place between 3rd May-8th June have been lifted- please read the information below carefully to see which countries are concerned.
- Update : 30th April : the lockdown restrictions in place between 3rd April-2 May have been lifted on Monday 3rd May. The presence of external users and short-term visitors on site is once again permitted. Important note : access to the ESRF site is still not permitted to users from certain countries due to the obligation to quarantine on arrival  in France - please read the information below carefully to see which countries are concerned.
- 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.
- Update : 20th March : restrictions for travel within France - change to curfew hours and exemption certificate (attestation) required for departments in local lockdown.
- 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
- Update : 25th January : restrictions for travel to and from European area countries - PCR test required
- 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)

1. Latest COVID-19 restrictions at the ESRF (9th June 2021)

The lockdown restrictions imposed between 3rd May and 8th June have been lifted on Wednesday 9th June; external users are allowed back on the ESRF site within the limitations described below.

New travel rules in place are now set up based on country color code, vaccination status and a list of essential reasons, please Section 2 for more details.

Based on the eligibility of travelers set by the French authorities via these travel rules, users eligible to travel to France will be able to come to the ESRF to perform their experiments. However, should the users fall into the category requiring a quarantine period upon arrival, the responsibility of its organisation and financing will remain on the user and the ESRF reservers the right to request a proof of the arrangements made by the users.

For user teams unable to travel to France under these new rules: 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.

Operation conditions from 14th June 2021:

  • For Structural Biology experiments on MX beamlines (except BM29 BioSAXS) and on the Cryo-EM, experiments should continue to be carried out remotely unless there are exceptional experiments requirements.
  • For non-Structural Biology experiments and MX experiments on BM29, users are welcomed back on site to carry out their experiments. Whether the experiment should be carried out remotely or with onsite users (or in a mixed mode) must be discussed and agreed with the Local Contact, taking into account available ESRF manpower resources and any travel restrictions applying to members of the user team.
  • The current maximum number in place of 3 users per experiment will be lifted.
  • 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 (9th June 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.

Travel to France is now subject to varying restrictions, based on the intensity of variants circulating in the regions, your vaccination status and the need for an essential reason in some cases. You can find a summary of these restrictions in the following table as well as the government's official press release available here.

COVID restrictions by country- final.jpg

Please note that in the case of a traveler being vaccinated, the following rules apply in order for this status to be fully eligible for entry:

Vaccines accepted by France are those recognised by the European Medecines Agency (EMA): Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Proof of vaccination is only valid provided that it attests to complete vaccination:

  • Two weeks after the second shot for two-shot vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca)
  • Four weeks after the shot for one-shot vaccines (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Two weeks after the shot for vaccines administered to people who have already had COVID-19 (only one dose is necessary).

Restrictions for travelling to France from a non "European area" country (Orange and Red categories)

Users coming from a country listed in the orange category (Russia, United Kingdom, United States and any other countries not listed as green nor red) can only come to France under the following rules:

  • If they are vaccinated with the approved vaccines as per the guidelines above.
  • If not vaccinated, under certain urgent and compelling reasons ('motif impérieux') of a family/personal, medical or professional nature (Land, sea, air transport sector workers or transport service providers) OR if you are a health or research professional contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

Users coming from a country listed in the red category (Argentina, Bahrein, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, Uruguay) cannot come to France, except for certain urgent and compelling reasons ('motif impérieux') of a family/personal, medical or professional nature (Land, sea, air transport sector workers or transport service providers).

Based on eligibility status, travelers are subject to various test and quarantine requirements as described in the table linked above.

Restrictions for travelling to France from a "European area" country as well as Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea (Green category)

On the webpage of the European and Foreign Affaires Ministry, the 'European area' is stipulated as including all EU member states, Schengen countries, Andorra, Vatican City, Saint-Marino, and Monaco.

People travelling to France from the above list must show either a proof of the accepted vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson) or a negative PCR or antigen test, taken within 72h of travel before their departure to France.

All types of travel are concerned (air, train, bus, car, sea).

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

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


A nightly curfew is currently in place in France from 11pm 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.

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

You have two options to get a PCR test done:

Option 1: PCR test service on site

Important note: This option is temporarily not available due to high demand and limited supplies.

The ESRF offers the possibility to provide a free PCR test on site. Users must make arrangements for this service ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Below are the instructions to follow to benefit from this service:

  1. Send out as soon as possible the following information to :
  • Birthname (maiden name)*:
  • Married name (if applicable):
  • First name*:
  • Date of Birth*: DD/MM/YYYY
  • Sex*: F/M
  • Social Security number (only applicable if linked to the French system):
  • Mobile phone*:
  • Home phone:
  • Email*:
  • Final destination*:
  • Dates of travel and transport methods*:

*Fields marked are mandatory

  1. The User Office will fill out for you the form required by French authorities to take a test and return it to you with instructions on how to contact the onsite doctor (SMTC).
  2. You can then schedule your appointment accordingly with the onsite doctor (SMTC).

Option 2: PCR test service off site through a private laboratory

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 PCR tests up to a limit of 140 € per reimbursed user per experiment session by filling in a reimbursement claim through SAP Concur and providing an invoice or receipt under the 'miscellaneous' expense option. 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.