France goes into lockdown in attempt to halt coronavirus spread

As of 12 noon on Tuesday, France is officially in lockdown with people ordered to stay at home for at least the next 15 days.

France goes into lockdown in attempt to halt coronavirus spread
Photo: AFP

French president Emmanuel Macron announced the measures on Monday night, and they officially took effect at 12 noon on Tuesday, March 17th.

For the next 15 days everyone must stay at home, trips outside the home are only permitted for specific essential activities.

Anyone outside their home will need a form stating their reasons for being out and must stay 1 metre apart from other people.

READ ALSO Coronavirus lockdown form – how it works and where to find it

In the final hours before the lockdown began, people did last-minute shopping, with long queues outside many stores (although food shopping will still be permitted as an essential activity).


Many stores were so busy they were restricting entry and panic-buying seems to have belatedly arrived in France as aisles including pasta, rice, eggs and tinned tomatoes were stripped bare.




Meanwhile many people used the time to get to the place they wanted to wait out the lockdown – particularly in Paris which saw a scramble to leave the capital.

“It's very impressive, it's barely 6.30am and people are running to the trains,” a French reporter said in the clip below from Paris' Montparnasse station.

“They are saying that they want to leave Paris to stay with family or friends in the countryside,” she said, adding that “most of them had started thinking about leaving at the end of it last week.”


Another French journalist also described scenes of what he called “people fleeing Paris” in the Montparnasse train station on Tuesday morning.


“Many young people are going to see their family for the lockdown,” he wrote.

“Many people are carrying big suitcases, a sign that they're not planning on a quick return to the capital.”

Not everyone was happy about what the French newspaper Le Figaro described “an exodus of Parisians” on Tuesday morning.


“Parisians fleeing Paris.. are accelerating the geographic spread of the virus,” this Twitter user said, adding “is this stupidity? Individualism?”

The lockdown had been widely rumoured for some days, with many people heading to the seaside, countryside or the parks over the weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather, conscious that it may be their last trip out for some time.

The lockdown measures are initially in place for 15 days, although this could be extended if the situation changes.

The last few days have also seen a scramble of tourists heading home, as increasing travel restrictions mean that international travel is now very difficult.

READ ALSO What's the latest on travelling to and from France?

Member comments

  1. Some possibilities:- Could it be the case that everyone of us will either be essentially immune or they will (WILL) get this disease sometime. So all this panic behaviour is a waste of time. Those who are susceptible to catching it, will catch it sometime. It is not going to suddenly fly off to another planet. Personally, I would be quite happy to catch it now and have done with it (hopefully). Also having these lock downs for 6 months instead of one, might damage the economy far more. Some answers might be useful. The government’s actions have done little to calm people down and have exacerbated the panic.

  2. Carte de Sejo:
    Most people at one point in their lives may get corona, but the reason for these protective measures is to slow down the rate of contagion. By doing so, we can reduce the burden on the health care system. Italy’s medical capacity is on the breaking point, where lack of personnels, ICU space, ventilators, masks, etc. is leading to inadequate care and death. By slowing down this process, more people can get adequate care and the death rate should fall, not to mention society functioning better and economy recovering quicker. Please look into this and make sure you don’t catch/spread it

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.