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LIFE IN PARIS

Coronavirus lockdown: Paris to cut public transport while Orly airport closes

Metro, bus and tram services in Paris will be severely restricted from Thursday as the city's coronavirus lockdown tightens. Meanwhile airport chiefs announced that Orly airport would close due to a drop in traffic.

Coronavirus lockdown: Paris to cut public transport while Orly airport closes
Photo: AFP

City transport operator RATP has revealed details of services from Thursday onwards, with limited services, closure of 50 Metro stations and restricted running times.

Metro, bus and tram services in the city have been running a reduced service ever since the country's schools closed and, a day later, the lockdown began.

But from Thursday onwards services will be reduced further in an effort to have as few RATP staff in public as possible.

The city's public transport network is largely reserved for essential workers since the majority of the other permitted reasons to leave home – food shopping, walking the dog etc – can be done within walking distance of the home.

 

But the capitals thousands of medical staff, plus other essential workers such as supermarket staff, utilities workers and garbage collectors, still need to get to and from work.

A spokesman for RATP said: “The objective remains to maintain a transport service for the entire Ile-de-France region to allow people with a strict need to travel to get about.

“The priority is all transport necessary for the staff of health establishments and other activities that need to be maintained.”

From Thursday the Metro and RER suburban trains will only run from 6am to 10pm.

Fifty stations including Alésia, Bourse, Campo Formio and Pernety will be closed. For live updates on the situation, click here.

Metro lines will be running at 30 percent of the normal service frequency while the RER and Transilien suburban trains will run at 25 percent. There will be bus replacement services to the suburbs after 10pm.

Tram lines will continue to run, although both tramway and bus services have already been scaled back.

The Noctilien night bus service will continue to run as normal, with the addition of an extra 20 shuttles running to and from hospitals for medical staff.

The daytime bus service will continue as it is this week, but will be reduced from Monday.

Orly airport to close

Also Wednesday, Paris airports operator ADP said it would temporarily shut Orly airport, the main domestic hub, to commercial flights because of the “significant and sudden” drop-off in passenger traffic because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

“Yesterday passenger traffic at Orly was down 92 percent and down 89 percent at Charles de Gaulle,” the main Paris international hub, ADP's managing director Edward Arkwright told journalists.

The group had already shut several terminals at both airports as airlines slashed flights.

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COVID-19

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.

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