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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Germany condemns anti-French aggression along border

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Saturday condemned aggression towards French people travelling into border areas, which has flared amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus: Germany condemns anti-French aggression along border
Photo: PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP

“Coronavirus knows nothing of nationality. It's the same for human dignity. It hurts to see how some of our French friends have been insulted and attacked because of COVID-19,” Mass posted on Twitter.

“Such behaviour is completely unacceptable. And besides: we are in the same boat,” he added.

 

Maas' tweet came in response to a similarly apologetic post from Anke Rehlinger, economy minister in Saarland state which borders France's Grand Est region.

“Our heart bleeds for the closed borders to France and Luxembourg,” Rehlinger said on April 8.

“We have heard that French people have been insulted and had eggs thrown at them. People doing such things are sinning against the friendship between our nations,” she added.

“I apologise to our French friends for these isolated incidents.” Some days before, the mayor of a small town on the border complained of “a certain hostility to our French friends” in his district.

“Some have been insulted or stopped on the street” while others “no longer dare come here,” Gersheim mayor Michael Clivot told news site t-online.

The situation in Gersheim became so bad that Clivot posted a video directly addressing the townspeople on Facebook.

Some French people had reported being spat on while out walking or queueing at the supermarket, he said. One had been told to “go back to your corona-ridden country,” Clivot added. 

'Joint action needed'

The French consul in Saarland, Catherine Robinet, confirmed that 'isolated' incidents targeting French nationals had taken place in the region.

But Robinet urged against “generalising” the anti-French sentiment, adding that she had also received numerous messages of support.

Some people in France also have reacted poorly to Germans in the country, she added.

For the Gersheim mayor Clivot, the incidents showed that a decision by Berlin to close the frontier in mid-March in a bid to slow the pandemic's spread had been mistaken.

“What we needed (at the time) was joint action with France,” he said.

On March 16, Germany introduced tough border controls with neighbouring nations including France.

Since then, only goods deliveries and cross-border commuters have been waved through by police, while officers have turned back other travellers.

Grand Est on the German border has suffered France's most deadly COVID-19 outbreak with more than 2,000 confirmed deaths.

Across the border in Saarland, only 41 fatal cases have been registered by the Robert Koch Institute, responsible for disease control.

Germany's nationwide death rate from the disease is also well below that in France, with 2,544 of 118,000 infected people succumbing while in France over 13,800 have died out of some 125,000 cases.

Member comments

  1. Ah, so this fantasy that the EU would make everyone EUROPEAN has been shattered! Too bad, for, in the end, the EU cared little about the cultural differences between member states. Germans will always be Germand and feel superior to all, while the French, try as they might, will always play second fiddle. Interesting to see the EU members acting like greedy jackals during this pandemic.

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules will relax in France as the country ends compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes will take effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that will begin in February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.

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