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HEALTH

The French Covid-19 health rules and guidelines still in place

France has lifted many of its lockdown restrictions but that doesn't mean that things are entirely normal again or that there aren't rules in place.

The French Covid-19 health rules and guidelines still in place
There are still plenty of rules in place in France and breaking some of them will net you a €135 fine. Photo: AFP

France first began lifting its strict two-month lockdown on May 11th in a slow and gradual process.

Since then, better-than-expected data on the health situation means that some rules have been relaxed earlier than planned.

But anyone expecting things to be completely back to normal in France will be in for a shock.

Here are the rules that you still need to follow in France or risk a fine.

READ ALSO What changes as France moves to phase 2 of lockdown

1. No big gatherings

After a lonely couple of months, meeting friends and family is now allowed again, as are some nights out, but with limits.

Gatherings of more than 5,000 people are still banned and this rule is unlikely to be relaxed until mid August at the earliest.

People who fall into vulnerable groups such as the over 65s are still advised – although not ordered – to self-isolate.

2. Masks

Masks are compulsory on all forms of public transport (including taxis) and in all indoor public spaces.

Flouting the rules could earn you a €135 fine – check out the full list of places where you need to wear a mask here.

Masks are not compulsory in the streets, but are advised, and in spaces such as beaches, parks and gardens local authorities can decide whether to make them compulsory or not so check out the signs at the place you are visiting.

Most tourist attractions also require visitors to wear a mask.

3. No kissing

The double (or sometimes treble) cheek kiss known as la bise is a key part of French culture, but the government has now told people not to do it as it risks spreading infection, with handshakes similarly banned.

On to a different type of kissing and the French government has not followed the lead of the Dutch and Nordic governments in issuing very frank sex advice, but there are some guidelines for people who wish to resume dating.

READ ALSO Sex, dating and coronavirus – what is the advice in France?

In many public spaces new markings show physical distancing guidelines. Photo: AFP

4. No getting closer than 1m

The advice for social distancing and hygiene measures in France remains unchanged – people are asked to follow basic health advice including not getting closer than 1m to other people, washing their hands frequently, using hand gel and coughing into their elbows.

5. No non-essential travel from some countries

From June 15th France has reopened its borders to travellers from within the EU, UK and Schengen zone with no more need for international travel permits or quarantines.

However for people wanting to travel from outside Europe, there are restrictions in place for any country not on the EU's 'safe' country list.

6. No football or rugby matches or concerts

Mass gatherings of more than 5,000 people are still banned, which means no concerts at bigger music venues. Sports stadiums will be allowed to reopen with crowds from July 11th – but the 5,000 person maximum limit still applies.

The French rugby and football leagues have both declared the 2019/20 season over and plan to restart the new season in September.

For amateurs, contact sports such as football and rugby are still banned although non-contact team sports are now allowed.

7. Hand gel

Gel is available in dispensers on the streets in cities and at the entrance to many shops, businesses and tourist attractions.

Business owners and the operators of tourist attractions can require people to use hand gel before entering.

In Paris, many cafés have expanded out onto the street . Photo: AFP

8. No cars (in some streets)

If you're in Paris, watch out for changes to the traffic rules as local authorities have declared many streets off-limits to cars.

Some of them have been closed to allow café terraces to expand while others – like the Rue de Rivoli – have been turned into bike lanes to encourage more people to take up cycling and stay off the crowded public transport.

Member comments

  1. I hope that they allow travel from outside of Europe for family members of those who are official working and tax-paying residents of France. Macron said he wants to recruit foreign talent to work in France, so he should let us see our families. This is really hard.

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TRAVEL

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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