Coronavirus in France: News Update May 12

Coronavirus in France: News Update May 12

Here is your FrenchEntrée Covid-19 news round up from the last seven days, plus a look at what you can and cannot do following yesterday’s end to lockdown.

Covid-19 latest figures

On Sunday, the eve of déconfinement in France, the epidemic continued to slow in France. The General Health Directorate announced an 70 additional Covid-19 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

This brings to 26,830 the number of Covid-19-related deaths since 1 March (16,642 in hospitals and 9,738 in social and social-medical institutions).

A total of 22,569 people remained hospitalised.

“Our efforts were effective during confinement which saved thousands of lives, they must continue to help us succeed in this new phase,” the DGS stressed in its daily communiqué, noting that “the epidemic is still active and evolving”.

When the lockdown ended yesterday morning, rush hour in Paris brought just 10% of the usual traffic jams.

In other news, Gironde and Landes departments were placed under a ‘vigilance rouge’ severe weather warning with risk of flooding, with 26 other departments under an orange weather warning.


No quarantine for UK visitors from France

Some good news for those travelling to the UK from France – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that anyone arriving in the UK from overseas would be subject to a 14-day quarantine period. However, it was later clarified that this ruling would not impact those arriving from France, following a reciprocal deal with French authorities.

End of lockdown: what you can and cannot do

After two months of confinement throughout the country, a “very gradual” déconfinement began yesterday. Many of the previous restrictions are still in effect, linked to the fear of a second wave of the epidemic.

Here is what are and are not allowed to do.

  • Go back to work: yes
    • “400,000 companies representing 875,000 jobs will reopen,” said Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy on Sunday. Nevertheless, homeworking (télétravail) must continue to “be the rule whenever it can be implemented”, the Labour Ministry said, before adding: “however, when presence in the workplace is necessary, the sequencing of activities and the introduction of staggered working hours should be introduced if possible”.
    • This is especially vital in the Ile-de-France region, where the virus is still circulating in large numbers, the Health Minister, Olivier Véran, said. In addition, not all staff should be present in the company at the same time, and if necessary, “individual protection measures, such as wearing a mask”, can also be taken.
  • Going to school: yes, but not for all students
    • Crèches reopened, with a maximum of ten children, and with the obligatory wearing of masks for staff.
  • Throughout France, maternelle and primary school pupils can return if their parents so wish, with a limit of 10 to 15 pupils per group. “One million schoolchildren will be welcomed by around 130 000 teachers”, said Education Minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer. He said between “80% and 85%” of France’s 50,500 schools would be open.
  • In departments classified as green (see our article on the colour-coded map here), secondary schools will be able to reopen from 18 May, starting with sixième and cinquième classes. A review of the health situation at the end of May will determine the gradual reopening of collèges and lycées from June.
  • Shopping: yes
    • All shops including hairdressers, clothes boutiques, florists and bookshops opened for business yesterday, as long as they respected security measures such as wearing masks or limiting the number of customers present in a shop. On local level, prefectures have the right to prohibit the reopening of shopping centres larger than 40,000sqm, notably in Ile-de-France.
  • Have a drink in a bar: no
    • Restaurants, cafés and bars remain closed until further notice.
  • Getting around: yes, within a radius of 100 km
    • Travelling less than 100km or within your department of residence is now allowed, without the attestation form that was compulsory until now. However, one must to be able to prove one’s place of residence in the event of a police check (carry a utilities bill). For journeys of more than 100km, a certificate is still being drawn up for those who need to justify urgent or imperative journey (for professional or family reasons).
  • Taking public transport: yes but with a mask
    • On all public transport, the wearing of a mask is compulsory from the age of 11. In addition, during rush hours (between 6.30am. and 9.30am, then between 4pm and 7pm), Ile-de-France transport will be reserved for people with an employer’s certificate or who can show “compelling reasons”.
  • In the Paris region, Health Minister Olivier Véran asked residents to limit their movements to what is strictly necessary. Additional measures “could be taken on Ile-de-France’s transport if the health situation does not improve”, according to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
  • In addition, inter-regional travel will be “very strongly limited” with a “voluntarily reduced offer” (20 to 30% of TGV and Intercity trains) and subject to travel restrictions. Access to a TGV without authorisation, or to Ile-de-France transport at rush hour without justification, or failure to wear a mask during transport, may be subject to a fine of €135 euros.
  • Seeing family and friends again: yes, but in a restricted committee.
    • Gatherings in the street or in private places will be limited to 10 people, the Prime Minister said on Thursday. This threshold may be reviewed from June 2. In order to take as few risks as possible, people must continue to apply social distancing measures, the interior minister said.
  • Doing sport: yes, but only outdoors
    • Activity and physical exercise outdoors is now allowed, more than a kilometre from home, with no time limit. Parks and gardens in the capital, like those of other “red” departments will not reopen immediately. However, in the Ile-de-France region, the Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne are open again, as are the Champ-de-Mars and the esplanade des Invalides and the capital’s riverside paths.
  • The Ministry of Sports has decreed “a distance of ten metres minimum between two people” who are running or cycling, a distance that increases to five metres for fast walking.
  • Sports clubs are allowed to resume activities for their members, but with these restrictions: in the open air, no more than ten participants, no access to changing rooms and no contact. Tennis matches will be allowed from Monday onwards, but only in singles and on “totally open” courts. Golf courses may also reopen, but a maximum of two golfers per game will be allowed, three metres apart and each with their own equipment. And only one player will be allowed per cart. Equestrian centres will also be able to reopen their open-air facilities. Team sports or contact sports remain banned, while swimming pools and sports halls remain closed.
  • Going to the beach: no, but exceptions may be possible
    • The government has said that access to beaches, which were initially set to remain closed until 1 June, would be reopened from 11 May on a “case-by-case” basis, with prefects permitted to authorise access at the request of mayors and subject to the introduction of “sufficient facilities to guarantee physical distance”.
  • Go to the library: yes
    • Access to culture will initially be limited. Bookshops, record shops, art galleries, libraries, media libraries and some museums and monuments (the smallest) were able to reopen yesterday, but cinemas, theatres, multi-purpose halls and festival halls remain closed.
  • As with sporting events, no cultural event with more than 5,000 participants can be held before September.
  • Attend a religious ceremony: no, except for a funeral.
    • The rule remains unchanged: places of worship are open for individual worship, but no ceremonies can be held there, except for funerals. In this case, gatherings remain limited to 20 people. Cemeteries, on the other hand, are accessible again.
  • Visiting a vulnerable relative: yes but with great care
    • The most vulnerable are no longer subject to “compulsory confinement”, but the “elderly or sick with illnesses such as obesity, diabetes” or suffering from “respiratory insufficiency”, are being asked to “maintain as far as possible very strict rules of precaution”, said Olivier Véran last week.
  • Organising a wedding: no
    • All weddings are postponed until further notice.

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