Dynamic or static: What are the rules of going to the beach in France?

France's beaches, closed for the two months of the strict lockdown, are reopening - but with a rule that you must be 'dynamic'. Here's what you need to know.

France is beginning to loosen its strict lockdown but there are still plenty of restrictions in place, which means that a relaxing trip to the beach just got a whole lot more complicated.

So if you fancy some sea air and the feel of sand between your toes, here's what you need to know.

Is it more than 100km away?

This is the first thing to check – how far are you travelling to the beach? Although travel is now freer than it was during the strict phase of the lockdown when every trip out of the home required a permission form there are still limits.

The 100km rule means that any trip of more than 100km from your home needs an essential reason and a permission form.

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

Is it open?

Although many beaches have reopened since lockdown began to be lifted on May 11th not all have – and this is a decision for local authorities.

Authorities in northern France who had reopened their beaches have since decided to close three of them down again because too many people were gathering there and several other mayors are putting in reduced opening times to try and avoid crowds over the Ascension holiday weekend.

MAP: Which French beaches are open?


Unfortunately this kind of glorious laziness is now not allowed on French beaches. Photo: AFP

Are you dynamic?

Don't worry, this isn't a comment on your personality, it just covers the type of activity you are allowed to do on the beach.

Broadly dynamic activities such as walking, running or swimming are fine while static activities like picnicking, sunbathing or reading are not.

So if you go to the beach you need to keep moving.

Are you in a crowd?

This one is  a bit more difficult to control, but beaches can be closed or cleared if too many people gather.

Groups of fewer than 10 people are allowed to travel there together, so going for a walk with a group of mates is fine, but if the beach itself becomes too crowded then you could be moved on or local officials could decide to close the beach.

Officials from the Mobihan préfecture in Brittany said that beachgoers gathered in several static groups and failed to observe the appropriate distancing measures. Beaches at Damgan, Billiers and Erdeven will close from Wednesday night.

Beaches have new rules around the activities permitted there. Photo: AFP

Hygiene measures

Masks are not compulsory in public places, although they are on public transport so you will need one if you take the bus or train to the seaside.

You should keep at least 1m away from other people, wash your hands and use hand gel regularly and if you sneeze or cough, do it into your elbow. 




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Carte vitale: France to adopt a new ‘biometric’ health card

The French parliament has approved a €20 million project to launch a 'biometric' version of the carte vitale health insurance card.

Carte vitale: France to adopt a new 'biometric' health card

As part of the French government’s package of financial aid for the cost-of-living crisis, €20 million will be set set aside to launch a biometric health card, after an amendment proposed by senators was approved.

Right-wing senators made this measure a “condition” of their support for the financial aid package, according to French left-wing daily Libération, and on Thursday the measure was approved by the Assemblée nationale.

While it sounds quite high tech, the idea is relatively simple, according to centre-right MP Thibault Bazin: the carte vitale would be equipped with a chip that “contains physical characteristics of the insured, such as their fingerprints” which would allow healthcare providers to identify them.

The carte vitale is the card that allows anyone registered in the French health system to be reimbursed for medical costs such as doctor’s appointments, medical procedures and prescriptions. The card is linked to the patient’s bank account so that costs are reimbursed directly into the bank account, usually within a couple of days.

READ ALSO How a carte vitale works and how to get one

According to the centre-right Les Républicains group, the reason for having a ‘biometric’ carte vitale is to fight against welfare fraud.

They say this would have two functions; firstly the biometric data would ensure the card could only be used by the holder, and secondly the chip would allow for instant deactivation if the card was lost of stolen.

Support for the biometric carte vitale has mostly been concentrated with right-wing representatives, however, opponants say that the implementation of the tool would be costly and lengthy.

It would involve replacing at least 65 million cards across France and repurposing them with biometric chips, in addition to taking fingerprints for all people concerned.

Additionally, all healthcare professionals would have to join the new system and be equipped with devices capable of reading fingerprints. 

Left-leaning representatives have also voiced concerns regarding the protection of personal data and whether plans would comply with European regulations for protecting personal data, as the creation of ‘biometric’ carte vitales would inevitably lead to the creation of a centralised biometric database. Additionally, there are concerns regarding whether this sensitive personal information could be exposed to cybercrime, as the health insurance system in France has been targeted by hackers in the past.

Finally, there is concern that the amount of financial loss represented by carte vitale fraud has been overestimated. The true figures are difficult to establish, but fraud related to carte vitale use is only a small part of general welfare fraud, which also covers unemployment benefits and other government subsidy schemes.

The scheme is set to begin in the autumn, but there us no information on how this will be done, and whether the biometric chip will just be added to new cards, or whether existing cards will be replaced with new ones.