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HEALTH

What are the rules on travel around France after May 11th?

As France prepares to begin lifting its lockdown after May 11th, restrictions on travel - both international and domestic - remain. Here's a look at the new rules.

What are the rules on travel around France after May 11th?
Although city and suburban public transport will start to increase after May 11th, the country's high speed TGV trains will still be running only a limited service, on a pre-book basis only, in order

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's detailed plan to start lifting lockdown restrictions, as presented to the parliament on Tuesday, does away with the need for the signed, timed and dated attestation form for most trips outside the homes.

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

But there are exceptions to this – journeys within France of more than 100km require a travel certificate, and international still needs an international travel permit.

You can find out more about the latest on international travel here, but what about journeys within France?

What is the rule?

A journey of more than 100km away from your home is allowed for essential reasons only, either crucial work travel or urgent family reasons, Philippe told the parliament.

Any such journey will also require an attestation, although it's not clear at this stage whether this is the same attestation that we have been using for all journeys or whether a new form will be created.

Can I travel between départements and regions?

There is no specific restriction on crossing into a different département or region, provided the journey is less than 100km.

Although city and suburban public transport will start to increase after May 11th, the country's high speed TGV trains will still be running only a limited service, on a pre-book basis only, in order to keep inter-regional travel to a minimum.

People are also asked – although not ordered – to keep non-essential journeys of under 100km to a minimum.

Philippe said: “Now is not the time for weekend visits”.

What counts as an urgent family reason?

This wasn't specified in the speech, but Philippe did add that simply visiting family does not count as an urgent reason.

He added that at present, visiting grandparents aged over 65 – those most vulnerable to the virus – should not happen, in order to protect them.

It's likely that more detail will be published on this in the days to come, but the current attestation includes a category for urgent family reasons and that specifies providing urgent care to children or sick relatives.

How is the 100km measured?

Whether the 100km limit refers to the length of your journey or the distance as the crow flies from your home is not clear.

It seems likely that some discretion will be exercised around journeys around the 100km mark, but the basic principle is that people should not be undertaking long journeys.

 

Will there be local restrictions?

It's possible. Local officials have the power to make adaptations to all aspects of the national plan.

Local authorities in places with a high level of second homes have already become concerned about excess movement of people and the mayor of Chamonix, for example, has imposed a ban on short-term rentals.

So we could see extra travel restrictions or at least extra enforcement in certain areas.

Can I leave my second home?

At the beginning of the lockdown many thousands of people, particularly Parisians, left the cities and went to second homes in the country.

Many students also left university and returned to stay with their parents, while some foreigners who were staying at second homes in France decided to remain.

As France begins to return to work and schools start to reopen, many of these people are considering returning to their main residence.

However the rules as announced give no exemptions for returns from second homes more than 100km away from the main residence.

 

Quizzed on this on Wednesday, Junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said exiled Parisians would be able to return to the city “but in an orderly fashion”.

“A number of these Parisians, who have gone into temporary exile, are now making reservations (for train tickets) to return,” he told France 5.

“The idea, of course, is to get them back in an orderly fashion, if they physically need to go to work or if they are willing to put their children back in school,” he said.

He said train numbers will remain limited and will sell only half the normal number of tickets in order to maintain social distancing. Train travel is only possible with pre-booked tickets.

There was no mention of limits on people making the journey by car.

People who have their permanent home in another country are allowed to return home.

This was mainly intended for tourists who were stuck in the country when the lockdown began so if you do decide to travel now be prepared to explain to a gendarme why it is essential that you go home now, especially if you are travelling a long way through France.

 

Can I move to France?

The French government has asked that all house moves – either international or within France – are put on hold if possible. However if it is absolutely necessary, for example you will be left homeless if you don't move, you can still move house and that includes moving from another country into France.

You will need to complete the international travel certificate, plus a certificate for travel within France ticking 'vital family reason' as your reason for travel. You should have with you some proof of your new address in France and be prepared to explain to a gendarme why your move is vital and cannot be postponed.

Do I need a mask?

If you are on public transport, yes. From May 11th masks will be compulsory on all public transport including taxis.

Do I need a medical certificate?

There is currently no requirement for a medical or quarantine certificate, although if you have tested positive for coronavirus you should self-isolate for 14 days and no travel should be undertaken.

 

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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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