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LIVING IN FRANCE

Macron extends lockdown in France until May 11th as coronavirus death toll nears 15,000

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday evening the nationwide lockdown would be extended until May 11th as the total number of coronavirus deaths in France reached 14,967. (Paywall free)

Macron extends lockdown in France until May 11th as coronavirus death toll nears 15,000
This was the third time President Emmanuel Macron held a live speech from the Elysée Palace since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic in France. Photo: AFP

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“The strict confinement must continue until Monday, May 11th,” the French president said in a live televised speech to the nation on Monday evening.
 
But he also warned that easing the lockdown then “would only be possible if we continue to be good citizens, responsible and respect the rules, and if the spread of the virus has indeed continued to slow,” he said.
 
“We are living in a difficult moment, but thanks to our joint effort, we are progressing,” said Macron adding that the epidemic was “beginning to steady” but wasn't yet under control.

France has been subject to a strict nationwide lockdown since midday March 17th.

Macron said the weeks of severe limitation of movement had been crucial in limiting the spread of the coronavirus and needed to be continued to prevent a resurgence of the disease.

“We need to continue our efforts to limit the spread of the virus and especially follow the rules,” he said.

'A new step'

For the first time, the government gave details on how they were planning to exit the current lockdown, which was entering its fifth consecutive week on Tuesday.

May 11th would be “a new step” when schools and creches would be gradually opened, the president said.

Universities would however not resume their classes “before the summer.”

Bars and restaurants would “remain closed” for a longer period and no major event would take place “before mid July.”

France's borders with non-European countries would remain closed for the time being.

Macron said that, starting May 11th, “as many people as possible” should “go back to work to relaunch our industry, our businesses and services.”

'France was not prepared'

He admitted that there had been shortcomings “as in all the countries of the world” and that France had not been sufficiently prepared.

“We lacked gowns, gloves, gel and we were not able to hand out as many masks as we would have liked,” he said.

Tests, masks and an app

Before the country began unwinding the lockdown, France would have developed means to protect the population from the virus, the president said.

Tests, masks and new technology were mentioned as three important factors to ensure that the easing of restrictions could be safely executed. 

“Starting May 11th we will be able to test everyone who has symptoms,” Macron said, adding that France by then also would have increased its stocks of protective masks.

“The state should ensure that everyone has access to a mask (by May 11th),” the president said, adding that wearing a face mask could become “systématique” (routinely worn by everyone). But he didn't say they would be obligatory as some mayors around France have decided.

France would also have launched novel technological means to track the virus, notably an application that would allow for users to check if they had been in contact with someone that had tested positive for the virus.

Using the app would be voluntary and user's anonymity would be guaranteed, the government has said.

“A very small minority of the French have been exposed to the virus, we are very far from what we call a collective immunity,” the president said. 

He indicated that a vaccine would be the only solution for ending the pandemic, adding there was no evidence of so-called herd immunity among people in France for now.

Economic measures

Macron said he was “aware of the sacrifices” the French were making by staying at home and promised to reinforce measures taken to protect the country's workers.

The government would enter discussions with social partners in order to establish rules that would protect the workers that went back to work.

France would also “extend and reinforce” the economic and social measures in place to help employees and businesses. The “hardest hit sectors” would be able to ask to annul their expenses and students and households in a particularly precarious situation would be able to ask for financial help. 

This was the fourth time Macron addressed the nation on live TV since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic and the third televised speech from the Elysée Palace.

France on Monday reported a slight increase in the number of COVID-19 fatalities over the last 24 hours, with 335 deaths in hospital over the last day, 20 more than Sunday. 

Its total death toll from the coronavirus epidemic on Monday stood at 14,967, the health ministry said.

Of these, 9 588 fatalities were recorded in the country’s hospitals and 5,379 in nursing homes.

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ANIMAL WELFARE

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Around 300,000 pets are abandoned every year in France, many of them during the summer months. So if you're looking for a pet there are many lovely cats and dogs in shelters looking for a good home - here's how to go about it.

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Where to look

French animal welfare charity the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) is an excellent place to start – it currently lists nearly 4,500 animals available for adoption. 

But there are lots of other smaller, local organisations – it may be worthwhile dropping in to see a local vet as they will generally know of local groups seeking homes for abandoned pets.

There will be paperwork

First-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they will be allowed to buy an animal, and the same applies to those looking to adopt. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying or adopting pets only to abandon them later. 

The SPA, certainly, demands that would-be adopters are of legal age and are willing to take part in a “responsible adoption process”.

These things take time – as you should expect for a commitment that can last more than a decade. As the SPA website says, it seeks to ensure “that each decision is carefully considered and that the adopted animal matches its new family and way of life”.

The process may include home visits, interviews and discussions to help adopters find the animal to which they are best suited – older people may not cope well with an energetic puppy, for example.

READ ALSO What you need to know about owning a dog in France

Shelter animals

Some welfare organisations ensure their animals spend some time with ‘foster families’ until they are adopted. This means that the organisation has a pretty good idea how that animal is likely to behave when it gets to its new adopted home.

It is more difficult to judge an animal’s character if it has been kept in a pen in a shelter.

It will cost money

A financial contribution will most likely be requested by the organisation from which you are adopting. The sum will depend on the age and type of animal being adopted. 

The SPA, for example, asks for a donation to cover vets’ fees of between €250 and €300 for a dog, depending on its age, and €150 for a cat or a kitten.

Another well-known animal welfare organisation in France, Les Amis des Animaux, has a slightly different scale of fees covering the cost of chipping, vaccinations – including rabies/passport in mature animals, sterilisation, worming, et cetera. 

READ ALSO What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

What else you need to know

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. 

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method these days – that is registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70, the shelter will tell you whether your new pet already has a microchip or not.

You might not believe it if you have walked along certain streets in Paris, but you can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

The standard fine is €68, but the mayors of some towns have imposed stricter rules in the street, in parks, gardens and other public spaces. 

The French government’s Service Public website lists other rules regarding the health and wellbeing of pets. Read it here.

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