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COVID-19

What are the rules of walking your dog during coronavirus lockdown in France?

The French government has ordered everyone to stay home until April 15th at least, but four-legged friends can still get some fresh air. Here's a look at the rules of taking them out for a stroll during the coronavirus lockdown.

What are the rules of walking your dog during coronavirus lockdown in France?
Walking the dog is one of the acceptable reasons for leaving the home during lockdown. Photo: AFP

Since France went into full coronavirus crisis management mode on March 17th, all l trips outside the home have been banned except few, listed activities.

READ ALSO These are the rules of lockdown in France

Everyone leaving their home must bring a signed, timed and dated permission form (link here), which justifies their reason for being out and about. From April 6th a smartphone version of this will be available.

This form states the accepted reasons for leaving home during lockdown. Walking the dog is one such legitimate reason. 

The paragraph below – the one that concerns brief physical activity – is the one of concern to dog owners.

It says that you are allowed out for “brief trips, limited to an hour a day and no more than one kilometre from the home, either for an individual physical purpose (..), either to a walk together with people of the same household, or to fill the needs of animals.”

Source: French government

This paragraph existed in the original form that was issued at the first day of lockdown, but the government specified the details of it the new form from March 23rd, following general confusion on the rules outlined in the previous form – especially regarding this paragraph outlining the rules on physical activity.

So what are the rules?

All outdoor physical activity – be it to exercise yourself or your dog – must happen in you own area, not further than one kilometre from your home address.

You are not allowed to be outside for more than one hour.

Before stepping out the door you must write down the time on your mandatory form. Again, the rule here is the same for dog owners as for anyone wishing to go for a quick run – the government wants as few people as possible out of their homes at all times to give the virus fewer chances to spread.

READ ALSO: What are France's rules on jogging and cycling during coronavirus lockdown?

Nice's Promenade des Anglais has been closed off during the coronavirus lockdown – that includes furry friends. Photo: AFP

Do you have to go alone (apart from the dog)?

This has been a source of confusion. While the government's form specifically states that people in the same household can go for a walk together, there is an “either/or” between the alternatives of walking together with someone in your household or your pet.

The reason people are allowed to walk together when in the same household is to give leeway for parents to accompany children who are too young to go outside alone. The purpose is not to have full families walking outside together.

Dog owners and people with other types of pet that need to be taken out must walk them alone, according to the coronavirus hotline set up to answer questions regarding the lockdown.

Again, the overreaching goal is to limit the number of people walking outside at all times. If you are several in the household, it should suffice that one adult takes the dog out for a walk at the time. 

If you are a single parent in the household with a child and a dog, you should however be able to go together with your child and your dog at the same time. 

What happens if you overstep these rules?

Police are patrolling on the streets and the roads and anyone who is out without a form, or who is out for a reason that doesn't fall into one of the essential categories faces a fine of €135, or €200 if you are caught twice within a 15 day period.

More on what you risk if you break the lockdown rules here.

Vocab

Walk the dog – promener le chien

Fine – amende

Short activities – déplacements brefs

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HEALTH

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

As France launches its autumn vaccine campaign, almost half of those eligible for the second booster jab in France have already received it. This has left some wondering whether they could qualify for a third booster, using the new dual-strain vaccines.

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

Question: I’m in my 70s and I had my second booster back in the summer but now I see that the new dual-strain vaccines are available – should I be getting an extra booster with the new type of vaccine?

French health authorities launched the autumn booster campaign on October 3rd includes newly authorised dual-strain vaccines – such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 – which are designed to combat the Omicron variant.

It will be followed by the seasonal flu vaccination campaign in mid October.

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

In France, about 6.3 million people have received a second booster dose, “or 41 percent of the eligible population,” said the Directorate General of Health (DGS) to Ouest France.

Currently only those in high risk groups are eligible for a second booster shot, including pregnant women, the elderly those with medical conditions or carers – find the full list here.

As almost half of the eligible population have already received a fourth vaccine, many are wondering whether they will be eligible for a fifth (or third booster) in order to access the new dual-strain vaccine.  

According to Virginie, a representative from HAS – France’s health authority – the organisation “no longer thinks in terms of doses for high-risk people and immunocompromised patients.”

Specifically, the HAS recommends that a new injection be given – and if possible one of the dual-strain vaccines – “regardless of the number of injections received up to now”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

However, French health authorities specified that the additional booster should “respect the minimum recommended time between two doses.”

“This depends based on your profile – for people aged 80 and over, residents of nursing homes or long-term care units (USLD) and those who are immunocompromised, the wait-time is three months between jabs. For the others, the delay is set at six months.”

For those who have already been infected by Covid-19, the HAS recommends that if you are eligible for a second (or third booster) that the additional dose “is still recommended, with a minimum delay of three months after infection.”

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