Coronavirus in France: News Update, May 5

Coronavirus in France: News Update, May 5

Here is your FrenchEntrée Covid-19 news round up from the last seven days, including conditions for déconfinement as the May 11 deadline approaches, a new map showing which departments are least and most affected by Covid-19, news on quarantine for those visiting France, and fines for anyone not wearing a mask on public transport and planes.

Here are some of the main developments from the last seven days.

Covid-19 latest figures

Since March 1, 24,895 French people have died from Covid-19 in hospitals and care homes (the figure does not include deaths at home). There have been a total of 131, 287 confirmed cases and currently 25,815 hospitalisations. See the latest map of hospitalisations here.

France’s health minster Olivier Véran said in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday that the May 11 ‘déconfinement’ date would be delayed should conditions not be met to roll out post-lockdown life safely – namely if the number of new Covid-19 patients was too high.

The country “is going to have to live with this damn virus, it’s a long-distance run,” he said.

“If the containment is well respected until the end, the lid will have been put on the pot of the epidemic, and we will be able to deconfine gradually in the best conditions”, he explained. “If not, and if the number of new patients is too high, the date of lifting the containment could be questioned and will be assessed according to the departments.”

In his presentation of the exit strategy, the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, said last Tuesday that if a threshold of 3,000 additional cases per day was exceeded, the lockdown would continue. There was an average of 1,132 additional cases every 24 hours up to Saturday night.

From 11 May, 100 million masks per week will be distributed free of charge to health professionals to enable them to resume “as normal an activity as possible”, the health minister said. “Until now, 45 million masks a week were being removed for health professionals,” he said. “Some professions, which cannot work without them, such as dentists, will have FFP2 masks. For doctors, pharmacists and nurses, it will be three to four surgical or FFP2 masks a day.”

News and practical tips for those living in France

  • There will be no quarantine imposed on those entering France from other EU countries. Two days ago, however, the UK’s transport minister Grant Schapps said he was “actively looking” at quarantining people entering the UK once travel restrictions are lifted in order to prevent any further spread of coronavirus.
  • Anyone flouting social distancing or mask-wearing regulations on French public transport after May 11 could receive a fine of up to €135, said junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari. Police, as well as the transport firms’ own security (trains, métro, buses, planes and taxis), would have the power to hand out such a fine.
  • Some public transport firms have expressed concerns to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, with just a week to go before déconfinement. The Union des transporteurs publics (UTP), RATP, SNCF, Keolis, Transdev and Agir said that they have “neither the human nor material means” to enforce the barrier measures desired by the government. They added that they fear public order disturbances should they not be able to control passengers. “We consider it our duty to inform you of the very high risk of disturbance of public order which will necessarily lead to the stopping of public transport”, said the letter to the PM.
  • Déconfinement plans in your area will depend on the level of virus spread across the department in which you live. A Health Ministry map uses red, orange and green to signify, respectively, whether the department is in a critical phase of the epidemic, under stress, or in a more favourable situation.
  • The map combines two sets of information: the dynamics of the epidemic, with departments classified according to the number of suspected coronavirus cases presenting at emergency departments. The second gives an overview of the pressure on intensive care units by calculating the ratio of patients compared to the number of available beds.
  • The map on Sunday showed three departments, Mayenne, Loire-Atlantique and Gers moving from orange to green. A final map coloured with just red and green will be released on Thursday May 7, with ‘red’ departments braced for more stringent déconfinement rules (such as schools and parks remaining closed) than ‘green’ ones.
  • Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire said he believes that people should use trains for journeys lasting no more than two and a half hours. Any internal routes where air travel is not justified would be shut.
  • The French mayor’s association in the Ile-de-France region (which includes notable city bosses such as Anne Hidalgo in Paris) has presented an open letter with 316 signatories to the President, saying it believes the proposed date for schools opening on May 11 is untenable. “Mr President of the Republic, in Ile-de-France, the State cannot disengage itself from its responsibility to reopen schools on 11 May; and this timetable is, in most of our communes, untenable and unrealistic”.
  • France’s Employment Minister Muriel Pénicaud thinks it is “reasonable to say” that extensive télétravail (working from home) will continue at least until the summer. She told franceinfo that it was “very important that, as far as possible”, the five million employees who work from home continue to do so “because it avoids having too many people in the workplace”.

If you go down to the woods on May 11…

Among the public spaces that will once again be open to the public on May 11 are its forests, offering residents across the country the chance to enjoy some much-missed walks (whilst respecting social distancing measures). The government tweeted a list of places that would be open, among them all forests – whether they are in departments with low or high epidemic circulation.

Forests, along with cemeteries, small museums, médiathèques and libraries, are the only public places that will be open to everyone post-May 11 regardless of the Covid-19 ‘colour code’ of your department. Parks and gardens will be open to those living in a ‘green’ department.

The full list (in French) of do’s and don’ts after May 11 is available here.

Two Bergerac museums to reopen on May 12

Good news for FrenchEntrée readers in Dordogne – two of Bergerac’s museums will be reopening to the public next Tuesday May 12, albeit with limited offerings and restricted visitor numbers.

The Tobacco Museum and the Costi Museum of Bergerac will open from Tuesday to Friday from 1.30pm to 6pm and on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 2pm to 6pm.

Numerous activities and workshops will also be available via Facebook.

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