French can break coronavirus lockdown to adopt pets

France has decided to allow people outside to adopt a pet from animal shelters, despite strict home confinement measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

French can break coronavirus lockdown to adopt pets

The interior ministry announced Saturday that “tolerance will be granted” for the mercy missions from Thursday after a call from the Animal Protection Society (SPA).

The society shut its 62 centres to the public in line with official decrees to limit contact three weeks ago.

But on Monday the SPA urged a re-think and warned of overcrowding with thousands of animals waiting for a new home.

“Fully behind the cause of animal welfare, the government has heard the SPA's call and immediately shown the heart to find a sensible solution,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

“It has been decided that tolerance will be granted for travel to adopt animals from shelters,” the ministry said in a statement.

However, it added a series of restrictions including selecting the pet online and making an appointment for it to be collected by a single person.

“This will enable the rules to be respected and to save the lives of numerous animals,” the ministry added.

“We have 5,000 animals in our shelters and a capacity of 6,000,” said SPA president Jacques-Charles Fombonne. France has recorded more than 13,000 coronavirus deaths.

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French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.