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COVID-19

France to use helicopters and drones to enforce coronavirus restrictions

France is calling up helicopters and drones to boost the government's attempts to keep people in their homes, police officials said Saturday.

France to use helicopters and drones to enforce coronavirus restrictions
French Gendarmes use a helicopter as they patrol the beach of Porticcio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica on March 21, 2020. AFP

“The helicopters will give us a larger vision and a panoramic view of the situation in real time to help guide the patrols on the ground,” a national gendarmerie source said.

One helicopter was already in use on Saturday, hovering above major Paris parks to ensure that confinement rules were respected.

Drones will also be used to help keep people confined, in particular to keep an eye on the banks of the Seine.

France has been in lockdown since midday on Tuesday, with excursions from the home limited to buying food, visiting the doctor, walking the dog or going for a solitary jog.

The measures came as the government mulled expanding the two-week home confinement imposed on all residents in a bid to brake the epidemic that has caused 562 deaths in France.

No gatherings are allowed, and workers can only go to the office if their employer does not provide an option for working from home.

AFP

People who venture outside need to carry a certificate, which can be printed from the government website, to declare the reason for their trip, and risk a 135-euro ($145) fine if they cannot show one.

The government has deployed 100,000 police to monitor people's movements. 

No curfew has been imposed.

Businesses are suffering from the restrictions. Many have been told to close with only key businesses like supermarkets and pharmacies allowed to keep their doors open.

“Here we are still making the bread but we're not giving out the change,” said one baker in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil.

Coins are laid out by denomination on the counter and customers take whatever is their due, in order not to spread the virus.

Ordinary citizens are also, increasingly, doing their bit to assuage the effects of the forced confinement.

A florists in the Sarthe region of western France is losing heavily as his stock of roses and tulips can't be preserved.

“Rather than throw them away we decided to send the flowers to hospitals throughout France to give a boost to the nursing staff,” said the florist, Philippe Bigot. “It's our contribution”.

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COVID-19

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).

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