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COVID-19

French President Macron to address the nation on Monday evening

Emmanuel Macron will announce the government's latest measures to deal with the coronavirus epidemic in a televised speech on Monday evening. (Paywall free)

French President Macron to address the nation on Monday evening
French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP

The speech will come as France grapples with the government's new and stringent measures to stem the coronavirus spread in the country, with schools, cafés and restaurants all closed.

A special 'Defence Council' will be meeting on Monday to consult on what steps the state should take next to tackle the escalating health crisis.

The council will gather the president, prime minister, top military adviser, intelligence coordinator and ministers of health, the interior and foreign affairs.

French media have widely reported that the government would announce confinement measures and curfews for the whole country to come into force on Monday or Tuesday.

On Monday morning government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye described the reports of a curfew as “fake news”.

But she added: “We are examining all the useful measures to get people to change their behaviour.”

Ndiaye added that those measures would be discussed and based on the current outlook of the epidemic.

Santé Publique France reported 127 coronavirus linked deaths on Sunday evening and over 5,400 confirmed cases of the virus. 

You can find the latest information on the coronavirus situation in France here.

All French health authorities have pushed the same message over the past days: the country must slow down the spread of the coronavirus in order to avoid a situation similar to that of its neighbour Italy, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with the number of serious cases over the past weeks.

France this weekend ordered the closing of all “non-essential commercial activity” and urged all citizens to limit long-distance travel “to the strictly necessary.”

READ MORE: What's closed (and what's open) in France following the new coronavirus restrictions

Macron was also due to hold talks Monday with EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel to discuss possibly boosting the outer borders of Europe's visa-free Schengen area.

He will also take part in a video conference of G7 leaders on the coronavirus Monday afternoon.

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COVID-19

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.

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