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Extra police checks as public warned not to travel over Easter weekend

There will be extra police checks and roadblocks today as people in France are warned not to travel over the Easter weekend.

Extra police checks as public warned not to travel over Easter weekend
There will be extra roadblocks this weekend. Photo: AFP

The weekend will see extra police controls on the roads, particularly in areas that have a high number of second homes.

It follows on from a 160,000 person police operation on the roads last weekend – the date when many families had planned to travel after the schools broke up for the Easter holidays.

However strict French lockdown rules ban all non essential travel, with visits to families or Easter trips not deemed essential.

READ ALSO These are the rules of lockdown in France

France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. Photo: AFP

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told LCI radio last week: “Absolutely do not go on holiday during the lockdown period.”

He added that roadblocks would be stepped up on major routes and there would also be extra patrols in train stations to check the permission forms of anyone travelling.

Trains are still running in France but at a drastically reduced capacity – less than 10 percent of normal services.

There will also be checks at airports. Gendarmes in Marseille on Saturday turned back a private jet carrying a group of people from London who were intending to holiday in Cannes.

On board this aircraft, rented by a Croatian man claiming to work in the field of finance and real estate, were seven men between 40 and 50 years old and three women between 23 and 25 years old.

“They were coming for a holiday in Cannes and three helicopters were waiting for them on the tarmac,” the head of the border police service of Marignane (Bouches-du-Rhône) told local media.

“But we notified them that they were not allowed to enter the national territory and they left four hours later.”

Anyone wanting to enter French territory during lockdown must have an attestation de déplacement internationale showing that the reason for their travel is essential.

READ ALSO  France tightens rules on entering country with new international travel certificate

Local authorities in areas that have a high level of second homes or tourist rentals have also been asked to carry out checks on people travelling.

“Any abuse will be punished,” warned the minister.

“Lockdown is a constraint for families, I know, but we must hold out.”

Since the start on the lockdown on March 17th, French police have performed 5.8 million stop checks and issued 359,000 fines to people not complying with the rules.

The mayor of Chamonix in the French Alpes has introduced a ban on accommodation rentals of less then 14 days after he says the town saw a surge in arrivals over the last week.

The town is very popular with second home owners and frequently sees its population double over holiday periods.

Fortunately buying chocolate and eating chocolate are still allowed under the rules of lockdown so we can still celebrate Easter next weekend.

READ ALSO How to have a traditional French Easter while in lockdown

But some of France's Easter traditions will be felled by the rules – carnivals and special markets are cancelled and gathering to eat a 15,000 egg omelette is probably out too.

Legend has it that on Good Friday all church bells in France fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope – it is unclear whether the bells will need an attestation for their trip this year.

To find out more about France's Easter rituals, click here.

 

 

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STRIKES

Planes, trains and roads – France’s summer strike timetable

Unions representing railway workers, airline staff and truck divers have already called for strikes in France over the summer and it's likely that more will follow - here's your guide to the declared strike days and the services that will be affected.

Planes, trains and roads - France's summer strike timetable

The majority of the strikes are over pay, with unions saying that the soaring cost of living should mean pay increases for staff. So far there has been no call for a general strike, and each dispute is a separate matter between company bosses and the relevant workers’ representatives.

We will update this story throughout the summer.

Airlines

The air travel sector is the worst hit so far, with several different strikes called.

Airport – workers at Aéroports de Paris (which covers Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports but not Beauvais) will walk out on Friday, July 1st in their second one-day strike. This covers airport staff including security and check-in staff and will primarily affect flights departing from Paris – on their previous strike day one quarter of flights were cancelled. Passengers should check with their airline before going to the airport.

Ryanair – Ryanair cabin crew all around Europe are involved in a dispute with the company and held strike days on Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th. In France this affected flights at Toulouse, Marseille, Bordeaux and Paris Beauvais airports, although only 16 flights were cancelled (compared to 75 in Spain). Ryanair staff have filed a strike notice for ‘unlimited action’ over the summer, but their industrial action looks set to be conducted as a series of one or two-day strikes, probably in co-ordination with colleagues around Europe.

Exact days are still to be confirmed, but French unions say they will likely target busy times such as the July 8th/9th/10th weekend when French schools are out for summer, as well as the holiday weekend around July 14th.

Easyjet – French Easyjet pilots have written an open letter to the company CEO denouncing the chaos that has already seen the budget airline cancel dozens of flights because of staff shortages. They have not, however, filed a strike notice.

Staff shortages – in addition to strike action, air travel around Europe has been hit hard by shortages of key staff, and many airports have seen long wait times to check in.

Railways

SNCF strike – workers on the French rail operator SNCF have called a national strike on Wednesday, July 6th. This will potentially affect the high-speed TGV, the Intercité and local TER trains in all parts of France. It will not affect city public transport systems like the Paris Metro. SNCF will publish a strike timetable showing which services will be running on the Tuesday evening before the strike. 

Paris public transport – workers on the Paris public transport systems are also involved in a separate dispute about changes to changes to working conditions, this series of one-day actions has so far affected mostly the suburban Transilien trains and the RER network, but not the Metro.

Roads

Truck drivers blockades – Unions including the CFDT called for drivers to stage a blockade of industrial areas, mostly in the greater Paris region, on Monday, June 27th. Drivers too are calling for wage increases in what is likely to be the first in a series of events – usually drivers protest by either blockading certain addresses such as business depots or staging opérations escargot – rolling roadblocks on major routes.

Service station strike – employees of French energy giant Total Energies are also in dispute over wages and staged a one-day strike in June. Employees of service stations run by Total Energies walked out, while others blockaded Total’s refineries so that deliveries of fuel could not get out. So far, there has been no notice filed of a second strike day. 

Others

So far, most of the industrial action has centred on transport, which is one of the sectors that has the most impact on the daily life of both French residents and visitors. However there are other sectors that are involved in disputes over pay and conditions, notably healthcare. Staff at several hospitals have already staged industrial action – although for healthcare workers a grève involves staging protests outside the hospital, rather than walking out.

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