Coronavirus epidemic: France orders all bars, restaurants and non-essential shops to close

The French PM ordered on Sunday all bars, restaurants and non-essential shops to close across the country in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

Coronavirus epidemic: France orders all bars, restaurants and non-essential shops to close
French PM Edouard Philippe and health chief Jérôme Salomon. AFP


Edouard Philippe announced on Saturday evening that due to the acceleration of the coronavirus epidemic in France it was necessary to close all bars, restaurants, nightclubs and non-essential stores across the country.

All places deemed “non-essential” are to be closed, Philippe said.

“I have decided on the closure until further notice from midnight of places that receive the public that are non-essential to the life of the country. This includes notably cafes, restaurants, cinemas and discos,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

“We have noticed an acceleration in the spread of the virus and a rise in the number of people in intensive care, he said.

“We have observed that the first measures we have taken have not been correctly applied,” he said. “The best way to slow the virus is social distancing.”

France has already banned events that gather over 100 people together and from Monday schools around the country will remain closed. 

“Our objective is to protect you. I am aware of the effort and sacrifices that we’re asking of you,” he said.

Banks, pharmacies, food stores and supermarkets will remain open. Public transport will also run, the French PM said.

Places of worship would stay open but all services and ceremonies would have to be postponed, he said.

“I trust that the French people can understand the seriousness of the situation,” said Philippe adding that Sunday's first round of the national local elections will go ahead as planned.

His request to the people of France was clear: “Limit your movements as much as possible and avoid inter-city travel.”

“I know the French will show their calm, their civic mentality and their ability to obey the rules we have set out for their own security,” Philippe said.

The French PM said that the advice of most scientists was that the government should step up restrictive measures in a bid to slow down the epidemic.

The number of confirmed cases in France had doubled in three days to 4,500, health chief Jérôme Salomon said after the PM had spoken. The death toll rose to 91, a jump of 12 more since Friday.

'We need to change our behaviour now'

We have, in France, a rapidly developing situation in several parts of the country,” Salomon said.

“We need to do everything in our power to stem the peak of this epidemic.”

Salomon confirmed that France had entered stage 3, the term the government has used to describe a situation of a full-blown epidemic with the virus circulating actively across French territory.

“How the situation develops in the coming days depends on our behaviour,” Salomon stressed.

While reiterating that the recovery rate for the virus in France was 98 percent, he said “French people are not taking the situation seriously enough today.”

While most of the people who have died from the virus were aged above 70 with had underlying illnesses, more than 50 percent of the 300 patients currently in intensive care for the virus in a serious condition were aged under 60, Salomon said. He urged the public to avoid contact with others.

“People who are fragile or over 70, stay at home. And above all, do not have children visiting,” Salomon said.

The recovery rate for coronavirus victims in France was 98 percent.

The health chief also reiterated an earlier warning from the health minister that the public should avoid anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen if they think they are infected because they can cause complications.




Member comments

  1. What’s funny about that?
    If I were a tourist and staying in an hotel, where would I go out to eat?
    (Assuming the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, banned from opening)

  2. Ok, Richard.
    Interestingly, where I am, despite the ban, some brasseries are open.
    Who enforces it?

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules will relax in France as the country ends compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes will take effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that will begin in February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.