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IN DETAIL: This is the plan for post-lockdown life in France after May 11th

France's prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday revealed the long-awaited plan for the lifting of France's lockdown. Here are the main elements.

IN DETAIL: This is the plan for post-lockdown life in France after May 11th
Photo: AFP

France has been on a strict nationwide lockdown since March 17th in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

On Easter Monday president Emmanuel Macron revealed that, as death tolls continue to show a slow but steady fall, that restrictions could start to be lifted from May 11th.

However the government has always been clear that the loosening of restrictions will be a slow and gradual process and could be halted or even reversed if the health situation takes a turn for the worse.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, as he presented the plan to parliament on Tuesday, stressed this again and added that the plan, as presented, depends on there being no more than 3,000 new cases a day by May 11th.

When presenting the plan, he also stressed that local authorities will have the power to adapt measures to conditions in their area if there is a particular local need.

This is phase 1, which runs from May 11th to June 2nd. Details for the next phase will be outlined later and will depend on how phase 1 goes.

“I will address the French people at the end of May to evaluate the conditions in which we organise the next phase of the easing of restrictions and we will take decisions on the organisation of cafés, restaurants and holidays,” said Philippe.

There are the main points

Permission form

The attestation de déplacement dérogatoire – the form that everybody currently has to carry every time they leave their home – will not be needed, apart from for journeys over 100km.

All journeys of more than 100km will require a permission certificate. Journeys of more the 100km are discouraged and will only be allowed under similar rules as now – for essential motives such as crucial work travel or family reasons. 

Family visits do not qualify as a reason to travel more than 100km and the Prime Minister urged people to continue to protect elderly relatives by not visiting them.

Work

At present more than 10 million people in France cannot work, but it seems that the majority of them will be going back to work after May 11th – albeit with conditions in place.

Anyone who can work from home is asked to continue doing so for the weeks ahead.

People who cannot work from home will start to return to work, but employers must put in place social distancing measures in the workplace – this could include operating staggered shifts (which would ask help reduce rush hour crowds on public transport) or bringing people back on a part time basis to begin with.

Shops

All shops will be able to reopen from May 11th, but they must put in place social distancing measures first.

This will include limiting the number of people allowed in, putting in place markers to indicate distances when queuing and providing protective equipment such as masks for staff – in short the same way that the essential stores that have been allowed to open during lockdown have operated.

Local officials will have the power to prevent a shop reopening if they judge it cannot operate in a safe and socially distanced way.

Masks are recommended for shoppers and shops can require their customers to wear masks.

Big shopping centres and markets can reopen unless local authorities decide there is reason to keep them closed.

Travel within France

Travel will again be possible but only within a 100km limit. People won't be free to make long distance trips around the country, unless for essential reasons.

Journeys of more than 100km are allowed for essential professional or family reasons. It is not clear if a new permission form will be made available by the government for use after May 11th for long distance travel.

The country's high speed TGV trains will be running, but at a reduced capacity and by prior reservation only, in order to discourage travel.

Philippe added: “This is not the time to take a weekend trip”.

International travel

Travel into France is currently strictly regulated and for essential reasons only and there was no mention of a plan to change this.

President Emmanuel Macron has already said the EU's borders to non-EU countries will not reopen on May 11th.

Public transport

Although long-distance trains remain limited, public transport in cities will be brought back to higher levels as people return to work.

Public transport in Paris will run at 70 percent of its normal service from May 11th and then increase depending on demand.

But capacity will be reduced due to the need for social distancing measures. One of out two seats will be put out of use while passengers will be separated on platforms, the PM said.

Local authorities will make decisions on city transport networks.

Importantly, masks will be compulsory on all public transport.

Schools

Schools and crèches would start to reopen on a staggered basis from May 11th.

In nurseries (kindergarten) there will be a limit of 10 children per group and local authorities able to make adaptations.

For schools the number of pupils per class will be limited to 15.

The return to school will at first be voluntary, with parents not obliged to send their children back. Pupils will be able to follow teaching from home.

A decision will be taken on reopening post-16 high schools (lycées) at the end of May.

Masks will be compulsory for pupils in secondary schools, but not in primary schools or nurseries. 

Socialising

This will remain limited for some time to come.

A decision will be taken at the end of May on when cafés, bars and restaurants can reopen and Philippe “called for patience” in visiting friends and family members – particularly elderly or vulnerable people.

Parks and gardens can open up in certain low-risk areas and beaches will remain closed until at least June 1st.

Large public gatherings such as concerts will not be allowed before September. 

The limits on a social gatherings either in public or private will be 10 – except at funerals where 20 people are allowed.

Churches and other places of worship can open, but must limit the size of gatherings and put in place social distancing measures.

But official religious ceremonies will not be allowed before June 2nd.

Elderly and vulnerable people

Philippe asked people over 65 to be “patient” and to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and thereby also the hospitals.

The government has previously recommended the country's over 65s to remain home as much as possible after May 11th, however this is merely advisory and it will be up to each individual to decide how they behave after that date.

Exercise/sport

Individual exercise such as jogging, cycling and walking can resume without limit from May 11th, as long as social distancing is respected but there will be no sports in covered areas (such as gyms) and no team or contact sport.

Professional sports will not be allowed until September.

Culture

Cinemas, theatres and big museums will not reopen on May 11th, the government has decided.

“Large museums, which attract a large number of visitors from outside the area, cinemas and theatres and concert halls, where people stay in the same place in a closed environment, will not be able to reopen,” said the Prime Minister.

On the other hand small museums and libraries will be allowed to reopen on May 11th “because they can function more easily while respecting the protective measures”.

Exceptions

Everyone who has studied French grammar will know that the French love an exception.

The above is the national framework, but local authorities will have leeway to make extra adjustments if they see fit – Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has already published her plan for life in the city after lockdown which adds several measures to those proposed by the government.

From May 7th each département will be given one of two designations, depending on how many coronavirus cases they have and the situation in local hospitals.

“Green” départements (with the fewest cases) will be able to ease more restrictions than red départements, for example reopening public parks and gardens.

More details on this system will be presented in the coming days.

Healthcare

In addition to day-to-day life, Philippe also presented the nation's plan for continuing to contain the virus, warning that with no vaccine and no effective treatment, we will be living with the virus for months to come.

The 'protect, test and isolate' strategy aims to contain it as much as possible and ensure that health services are able to cope.

Testing will be ramped up to 700,000 a week and people can claim 100 percent reimbursement for the cost of a test.

Although the Prime Minister spoke about a system of contact testing, the government's planned testing app StopCovid is not ready yet.

Anyone diagnosed with coronavirus will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days. Hotels will be available for people to self-isolate in, although people can also choose to stay at home – although their families will have to isolate with them if they take that option.

 

 

 

 

 

Member comments

  1. Will the rules on allowing visitors who are not family members into your home still apply?

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POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

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