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COVID-19

Living in Europe: An update from the team at The Local

There's no doubt living, working and moving around Europe has become far more challenging in recent months. For all of us.

Living in Europe: An update from the team at The Local
Life in Europe is not like it was. Cyclists drive past chairs and tables of a still closed restaurant at the Alter Markt place, where works are under way for the reopening in Dortmund. AFP

Normal daily life has changed, travel has become more complicated and jobs and small businesses are under threat.

During these turbulent times, we at The Local pledge to provide you with all the essential news and information you need to stay informed with what's happening in the country where you live or love to visit.
 
Over the coming months we promise to:
 
  • Bring you everything you need to know about how the coronavirus crisis continues to impact European countries over the coming weeks and months.
  • Explain all the rules, regulations or health guidelines you have to follow 
  • Cover essential issues from travel and taxes, to jobs and work permits, borders and Brexit.
  • Answer your crucial questions and ask them, on your behalf, to authorities and we'll help you learn the local language in each country.
 
The weeks ahead will be extremely challenging for us at The Local given advertising revenue has plunged by around 70 percent compared to last year.
 
We have survived the crisis up until now because of the thousands of readers who became members in recent months and the thousands more who renewed their memberships. We are very grateful, as are our regular readers.
 
 
Without our members' support we wouldn't have been able to produce the articles, many of which we made free to all, that millions are reading each month.
 
We currently have around 25,000 members of The Local community. We've come a long way from when the The Local began in 2004 in the form of a newsletter sent to 12 people in a language class.
 
But our urgent goal is to grow our community to over 40,000 so we can cover our costs, become sustainable and not have to rely on advertising for survival.
 
Every member counts, so we could do with your help to spread the word. Tell your friends and colleagues about us or share our stories with them.
 
In return we'll continue to work hard and publish dozens of articles each week to explain life around Europe.
 
You should also know we are reinvesting members' contributions by bringing on board new writers, increasing weekend coverage and upgrading our apps.
 
 
 
This has been possible thanks to a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.
 
We hope you stay with us over the coming months as we report and explain all the relevant news and changes that affect you.
 
And remember the best way to keep up to date is by downloading our iOS or Android phone apps, and by joining the conversations on Facebook or Twitter.
 
A big thanks to all our readers from everyone at The Local.
 
 

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COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

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