On Friday, France prepared for its second blockade in just seven months in a nationwide attempt to slow the country’s renewed rise in Covid-19 cases. But with the experience of the first shutdown, the government has made some significant changes to its rules on incarceration. Jowharguides you through what you need to know.
On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France’s 67 million people would go into a four-week lockdown at the midnight strike on October 29. The lockdown is expected to last until at least December 1 and comes on the heels of a recent rise in French Covid-19 cases, which on Friday totaled nearly 1.3 million since the start of the pandemic. While the French – in the same way as the first shutdown – are encouraged to remain as isolated in their homes as possible during this period, there are also differences.
Here are the key changes to France’s lockdown rules:
Unlike France’s closure from March 17 to May 11, all schools – from kindergartens to colleges – will remain open this time. The reason for this is that a large number of students fell behind in their education in the spring, as most classes were either canceled or held via online video calling.
What is also new is that children must be provided with a signed form on the way to and from school, and so do parents who accompany their children to and from their educational institutions. The rules for students wearing masks have also been tightened and now cover children as young as six. The previous age limit for face masks was 11. Leisure centers after school will also be open to help relieve working parents.
But even if universities continue to operate, they remain physically closed – except for exams – and all lectures are held online.
The construction sector has been granted an exemption and can remain active in the period from 30 October to 1 December. The reason for this is the huge dent that the shutters from the construction industry left in the French economy this spring.
Likewise, France’s hard-hit cultural sector has had some activities that are exempt from closure to ensure their survival. Although the full details of this exception have not yet been revealed, the government has announced that music, film and theater workers will be allowed to continue rehearsals during the period, as will film recordings and studio music recordings.
Public services, such as administrative offices in town halls, will remain open to ensure that people can access their usual civic services and so that administrative processes do not stop.
Although the country’s nursing homes will once again adhere to strict health conditions during the closure, visits will no longer be banned. In his national speech on Wednesday, Macron said the government had decided to change the rules for retirement homes to avoid the “human tragedy” by leaving France’s elderly alone and isolated in the last years of their lives.
Places of worship, weddings and funerals
Churches, mosques and temples will be able to keep doors open for worshipers this time, but they will not be able to hold other religious ceremonies other than weddings and funerals. These ceremonies are only allowed to take place under very strict conditions, however, with a maximum of six people attending a wedding ceremony and a maximum of 30 at a funeral.
Parks and beaches
In a surprising move, parks, forests, gardens and beaches will not be closed to the public this time, but to get legal access to them, people must live within a kilometer of them. Access time is limited to one hour.
What does not change:
These remain mandatory in all public spaces, including in enclosed spaces, such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
Fitness centers & leisure activities
Fitness centers, sports clubs and leisure activity centers will be closed. Cultural venues, such as cinemas, theaters, concert halls and museums, will also be closed.
Shops, restaurants and bars
Non-essential shops and venues, such as bars, cafes and sit-down restaurants, will remain closed, while take-away providers, grocery and supermarkets, pharmacies, tobacconists, petrol stations, fruit and vegetable markets and the like, which are considered essential will remain open.
Like last time, the French will not be able to host private gatherings, including birthday parties and other festivities, in their homes.
Meetings between people of any kind, except for approved industrial actions, are not allowed.
Again, the French are allowed to complete an hour of training outside in the open during the day, but this must be done within a kilometer of their home. This includes walking a pet.
Buses, metros and other forms of local transport are kept in operation throughout the period, albeit with more limited services.
All unnecessary travel outside the area where a person is registered is strictly prohibited after the weekend of October 31st / November 1st. This means that people are not allowed to travel to either secondary or holiday homes outside their regions.
As with the first shutdown, the French must be provided with a signed form for any activity that requires them to leave their homes. This includes travel to work, food shopping, access to important services and of course performing their daily training time. Without such a form, first-time offenders risk a fine of € 135. You can access the various forms here.
work from home
Again, French employers have been asked to let their employees work from home as much as possible. If it is not possible to work from home for a company, the government requires it to shift work patterns as much as possible to limit the number of workers in contact with each other.
The government has once again promised to pay the bill for workers active in particularly hard-hit industries such as tourism, café / bar / restaurant industry, culture, sports and trade, and will pay 100 percent of their wages until the end of this year . In other less vulnerable industries, employers must contribute 15 percent to the wages of their workers.
Hotels remain open to accommodate professionals and important travelers, but food and drink are only available via room service.