16.10.2020 Europe

France's Covid curfew and restrictions for the next month: The Do's and Don'ts

© Louis Villers
LISTEN OCT 16, 2020
© Louis Villers

Around 20 million French people will, as of midnight on Friday, be subjected to a month-long curfew. It is the latest measure put in place by the government as it seeks to curb the spread of Covid-19. The measures, which are part of a renewed health state of emergency could be extended to six weeks.

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced that a curfew from 9pm-6am would be put in place in nine major cities and urban areas across France as of Friday at midnight.

As of Saturday 17 October, the entire country will be placed under a health state of emergency in a bid to slow down the Covid-19 epidemic.

The curfew will apply to Ile-de-France (Paris and its 7 surrounding departments), Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Montpellier and Rouen.

Most of these areas have been also identified as "maximum alert" zones, subject to a number of restrictions already in place.

These are Paris and its three closest department (Seine-Saint-Denis, Val de Marne, Hauts-de-Seine), Montpellier, Toulouse, Lille, Grenoble, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Aix-Marseille and the overseas territory of Guadeloupe.

The government uses three criteria to justify the curfew and label of "maximum alert" zone. It is the second highest category out of five.

An infection rate of more than 250 cases of Covid-19 for 100,000 residents over a 7 day period, an infection rate higher than 100 among elderly patients, and intensive care capacity for Covid patients reaching more than 30 percent, with a forecast to reach 50 percent in the coming weeks.

The cities placed under the third highest category of "reinforced alert" are Bordeaux, Nice, Rennes, Rouen, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon.

Nationwide measures to come into effect:

  • Gatherings in private and public places are restricted to six people
  • Private parties and weddings are no longer allowed to be held in public or private venues (some exceptions apply in reinforced alert zones, such as funerals)
  • Universities to allow only 50 percent of their students onsite at one time
  • Restaurants across France must continue to adhere to sanitary measures in place, allowing only six people per table, and a register of clients' details in case they need to be contacted.

Specific measures in curfew zones:
Exceptions to the curfew must be justified by a letter, which can be downloaded onto a smartphone or written on a piece of paper. A model can be found on the Interior ministry website.

Exceptions include working or need to travel at night - employers must provide justification for their employees if this is the case.

Exceptions are also made for getting medical treatment, going to the pharmacy, helping a dependent family member, or walking the dog, but a justification letter – valid for one hour - must be carried around specifying the reason.

People moving about during the curfew without valid justification could face a fine of 135 euros, which goes up to 3,750 euros for a repeat offense.

Police reserve the right to cancel events or close facilities (such as markets, pools, elderly care homes) and modify access hours in concertation with local authorities.

Restaurants, bars, cafés:
In "maximum alert" zones,Bars remain closed as per the decree on 26 September for a minimum of 15 days.

Restaurants and cafés serving food are allowed to remain open but must apply hygiene measures, and respect the curfew of 9pm.

Masks must be worn and only six people are allowed to sit at one table.

In "reinforced alert" zones: Bars can remain open until 10pm.

Restaurants and cafés serving food are allowed to remain open but must apply hygiene measures, and close at 10pm. Masks must be worn and only six people are allowed to sit at one table.

Some exceptions to the curfew have been made for hotel restaurants and takeaway services.

Entertainment venues, cinemas, cultural centres:

Maximum alert and reinforced zones: A maximum of 1,000 people allowed in event venues, with one seat vacant between two people or groups of six, all clients wearing masks.

Concert halls, theatres, museums are allowed to stay open if they apply the strict sanitary measures in place (social distancing, masks, limited number of visitors, hand gel). Curfew applies from 9pm.

Passengers travelling by trains or planes that leave or arrive inside the curfew hours can use their ticket as a justification.

Members of the public needing to pick up/drop off a passenger within curfew, is advised to carry a copy of their travel information as proof of travel times.

In maximum alert zones: all sporting facilities gyms, and fitness centres remain closed as per the announcements made by the government at the end of September, for a period of at least 15 days.

In reinforced alert zones: all sporting facilities are closed except those catering for school groups, children's sports, professional sports, training and outdoor activities.

Changing rooms in pools are closed
Employers are being encouraged to put remote working measures in to place for at least two or three days a week, or around 50 percent of staff presence onsite, and to stagger arrival and departure times.

Independent workers needing to move about during curfew hours must carry their professional cards with them.

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