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HEALTH

UPDATE: What are France’s rules on jogging and cycling during coronavirus lockdown?

The French government on Monday evening tightened the guidelines on physical exercise during lockdown, clearing up the confusion that had reigned since the new rules entered into effect.

UPDATE: What are France's rules on jogging and cycling during coronavirus lockdown?
Photo: AFP

Taking exercise is one of the official reasons that people are allowed out of their homes during the lockdown – along with trips to buy food, medical appointments, urgent family reasons and trips to and from work for people whose work is essential and cannot be done from home.

At the outset of the lockdown, the only restriction on exercise was that it must be taken alone and that anyone leaving their house for a quick sweat had to bring the mandatory form with them in case of a control. 

READ ALSO Lockdown permission form – how it works and where to find it

Following much confusion as to how far and for how long someone could exercise outside without risking trouble with the gendarmes, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe clarified the rules on Monday evening.

“Going out to take the children for a walk or for physical exercise must be within a distance of one kilometre maximum of your home, for one hour, and obviously alone, once a day,” Philippe said.

 

From now on, the PM said, anyone leaving their house for physical exercise were required to write down the time they left.

“We must not joke around with security rules,” Philippe said.

The new rules would be applied starting Tuesday, March 24th.

 

Joggers run alongside the Monceau Park in Paris, on March 22, 2020, on the sixth day of the lockdown. Photo: AFP

One, one, once

Since the beginning of the lockdown there has been widespread criticism of the high number of people all over France taking to the streets to jog after the new rules entered into force.

One kilometre, on hour, once a day provided much-needed clarification of a problem that had seen the sports ministry and interior ministry respectively issuing different guidelines.

Last week, the sports ministry said physical exercise must be limited to an area of one or two kilometres from home.

“1km or 2km max.. You're not supposed to distance yourself from your house,” the ministry tweeted.

 

“The rule is for everyone to be confined. Remember that you are not supposed to leave except for urgent matters such as grocery shopping or health reasons. A short run is possible, but not a 10k!”

After some people complained that the enforcing of the rules had been inconsistent, having been told that they were too far while staying within the 2 km rule, the ministry responded:

“You're right, it's complicated. We need a general rule while remembering that the situation is not the same in Paris as in Aveyron. The rule is: stay in your home as much as possible. If you go out, do so briefly and close to your home.”

 

The ministry of interior on the other hand opened up for the police forces on the ground to interpret the government's guidelines depending on the needs in their local area. 

In an interview with the French daily Libération, the interior ministry said “the sports ministry's tweet is a recommendation of distance” and that “it is up to police officers to verify that the rule is being respected.”

Some cities have completely closed off parts of their territory for exercise, like the Seine riverbanks in Paris and the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

READ MORE: Coronavirus testing in France: How does it work and who gets tested?

Cycling

There was also a lot of confusion around whether cycling is banned or not after the French cyclist federation said on Thursday morning, as cycling “does not comply with the criteria” specified in the government's decree.

 

“We ask all cyclists to be responsible and avoid all outdoor activity during this period,” the federation tweeted.

“One watchword matters: “Save lives! Stay at home!'.'

The government then appeared to back up this message by retweeting the federation with the words: “We have one message for cyclists: 'stay home'. “

But when the ministry of interior was asked to confirm cycling was banned their response to Liberation newspaper was slightly different.

The ministry said it was permitted if it was “necessary for good personal balance” adding that that it is all about “reducing your trips outside to the maximum”.

The interpretation of the rules by police on the ground may also not be consistent.

One French journalist reported taking his bike out to get some exercise and the police who stopped him to ask for his form accepted that it was allowed as long as he was alone. 

Cycling to work is NOT forbidden however although you will need to have your “attestation” with you to show to police.

READ ALSO What are the rules during France's lockdown?

Runners on the banks of the Garonne river in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on the third day of the lockdown in France. Photo: AFP

The French government has recommended everyone to be active for at least 30 minutes a day (an hour for children) during the period of lockdown.

“Move your body, walk, dance, but respect the health advice we have given,” 

Everyone in France have been told to stay home as much as possible, only going out for essential errands outlined on the mandatory form that anyone leaving their house must carry on them.

If you're having trouble finding motivation to exercise during lockdown, here are five apps that make it easier for you to strengthen your body and brain without leaving your home.

READ ALSO France's coronavirus lockdown form – your questions answered

The number of deaths linked to coronavirus in France rose to 860 on Monday after another 186 fatalities were recorded in 24 hours.

Of the 8,675 patients being treated in hospital for coronavirus, some 2,000 were in a serious condition, according to the French health minister Olivier Véran. That represented an increase of 300 people in 24 hours.

A man running in front of the Louvre as the lockdown came into effect in France. Photo: AFP

Since the coronavirus lockdown entered into effect, the government has repeatedly stressed that the restrictions on movement were not made so that people should find ways to go around them, but were put in place for everyone's safety. 

France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged everyone to respect the health authorities' call on everyone to stay inside their homes as much as possible, as he clarified why it was now mandatory to have this form on paper and not on smartphones, which had initially been allowed.

“We will keep using the paper version of the form because it's safer (..) and also because it's more restrictive,” Castaner said, adding that the new measures were “not put in place to facilitate the life of the French who want to go outside as freely as possible.”

Member comments

  1. So I have to get on a crowded bus or metro to get to work rather than riding a bicycle which is one of the safest ways to travel right now.

  2. Sparks, I would hope that if you are stopped by a policeman when cycling to work that common sense would prevail. That is provided that you have your paperwork in order (your signed form plus the letter from your employer). The cycling ban seems to be in the context of leisure and exercise, not travel to work (at least based upon the reporting in this article). Has anyone heard otherwise?

  3. Has anyone else observed that since the lockdown, amazon has run out of cheap printers ? Could this be due to the obligation to have a paper form ?

  4. The lockdown is a farce. A couple from Tours 200 km away have arrived at their holiday home in our little rural village with another couple presumably for the weekend. I wonder if they will be going into the village bakery. No wonder the virus spreads so easily

  5. I’d be grateful if anyone could point me towards the official information on the distance from home for solo exercise (+ chien) . My husband was issued with a 135 euro fine from a patrol this afternoon when out with the dog on our empty rural peninsula (44). Although within 2km and of course he had his piece of paper, he was told it had to be 300-400 metres from our home and he was booked and instructed to return home as quickly as possible. I’ve no objections to the restrictions and understand the reasoning, but I’d like to be armed with the correct info when I head out myself (and avoid another fine certainly).

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HEALTH

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters in France this autumn

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

READ ALSO When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.

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