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HEALTH

IN PICTURES: In salons, shops and schools France begins lifting its lockdown

As of Monday May 11th, lockdown in France began to be eased as people returned to work, took a trip to the shops or went to get a much-needed haircut.

IN PICTURES: In salons, shops and schools France begins lifting its lockdown
All photos: AFP

France’s 67 million inhabitants woke to the easing of its almost two-month-long lockdown on Monday, May 11th.

The majority of shops reopened, although with strict distancing measures in place. Many also require their customers to wear masks.

Hair and beauty salons also reopened, on an appointment basis only, with masks for customers and staff.

The rules on exercise were also relaxed, with the end to the 1-hour, 1km restriction on walking and jogging. Team sports are still banned but tennis and golf are now allowed.

Schools are only operating a very limited reopening, and in most cases pupils don't got back until Tuesday, but Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer visited this Paris classroom on Monday to check that all was ready.

But although many restrictions had been lifted, there are still some in place. In 'red' zones parks remain closed, such as this one in Lille.

Restrictions on travel have also been loosened for all journeys of less than 100km.

READ ALSO How does France's new 100km rule work?

The freedom of movement that this decision gives was showcased first thing on Monday morning on France’s A6 motorway as seen below, as cars started to pour into Paris on the famous Autoroute du Soleil (Motorway of the Sun) which connects the French capital with central and south-eastern France.

France’s government has put in place extra health and social distancing measures across its transport network to ensure travellers protect others and themselves.

The photos below show passengers in Lorient (Brittany) boarding a ferry to Groix island, with safety perimeters labelled on seats and face masks, which are currently mandatory on all transport in France, worn by all.  

France’s SNCF public rail network actually started to increase the regularity of its train services to Paris over the weekend before the start of Phase 1 on Monday.

They did so to allow Parisians (a quarter of whom are estimated to have left the capital for the countryside or second residences before the 55-day lockdown began) to return to their homes in the capital.

More rigorous transport measures are still being kept in Paris due to the active circulation of the virus.

READ MORE: Paris public transport – What is running and what are the rules?

To ensure public transport is not overcrowded in the French capital, commuters will have to carry a certificate from their employer if they travel during peak hours in the morning and evening.

Wearing masks is obligatory on Paris buses, metro and other public transport.

Authorities have been readying for passengers to return to its stations with a myriad of circles and arrows being placed on the ground of concourses to ensure people observe social distancing.

 

 

RATP employees have also been helping commuters to disinfect their hands as they arrive at a metro station as the above video of a worker distributing hydroalcoholic gel from a big container on his back shows.

There are also hand gel dispensers on the streets.

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PROPERTY

France brings in new tax declaration for property-owners

If you own property in France - either a main residence or a second home - you will now have to complete an extra tax declaration after changes to the tax system. Here's how it works.

France brings in new tax declaration for property-owners

People living in France already have to complete a yearly tax declaration, but if you own property here, you will also have to complete an extra declaration this year after changes to the tax system.

Who?

This applies to anyone who owns property in France – whether it is their main residence or a second home – including those who live in another country. If you do not own property and only rent your home, then this does not concern you.

What?

This isn’t an extra tax, it’s simply an extra piece of paperwork that has to be filled in, known as a Déclaration d’occupation, and this declaration is concerned with whether the property is your main residence or a second home.

Why?

This is because of recent changes to the property tax system. There are two types of property tax in France; taxe foncière which is paid by the property owner and taxe d’habitation which is paid by the property occupier. If you own your home home, traditionally you paid both.

However, taxe d’habitation is in the process of being scrapped for most people, and now only high-earners and second-home owners pay it. The problem is that the tax office don’t have a record of whether a property is used as a main home or a second home and therefore don’t know who to send bills to – hence the new declaration.

How?

If you live in France and already make your annual tax declaration online then this process should be fairly easy – head to impots.gouv.fr, log in and then click on Biens immobiliers (real estate) in the menu bar along the top of the website.

The site will then list the property or properties in your name, and you can fill out the déclaration d’occupation for each, stating whether it is your main residence or a second home.

If you’re not already registered on the impots.gouv site then you have two choices – register and set yourself up an account which will allow you to make the declaration online, or make the declaration on paper.

In order to register on the site you will need your numéro fiscale (tax number) which you should be able to find on previous correspondence from the tax office such as your annual tax bills.

You can find a full explanation of how to set up the online account HERE.

If you would prefer to make the declaration on paper, then the easiest option is to head to your local tax office and ask for a Déclaration d’occupation – you can find the tax office that serves your area by googling ‘Centre des finances publique‘ plus the name of your commune.

You do not need an appointment, as tax offices deal with queries on a walk-in basis, but make sure you check the opening times in advance as some offices, especially in small towns, have unusual opening hours. 

When?

The deadline to have completed the declaration is June 30th, and people who have a property registered should receive notification from the tax office. 

You will then receive your property tax bill in the autumn as usual. 

This is a one-off declaration so you won’t have to do it every year – only when your situation changes, so for example if you sell the property, buy a new one or change from it being a second-home to your main residence. 

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