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HEALTH

As schools reopen, what else changes now France has entered ‘phase 3’ of lockdown?

On Monday, June 22nd, France officially entered phase 3 of the gradual loosening of the lockdown rules, so what changes?

As schools reopen, what else changes now France has entered 'phase 3' of lockdown?
Schools reopen fully from June 22nd. Photo: AFP

Although June 22nd was originally the date for the beginning of phase 3 of lockdown, in fact some of the measures associated with it were introduced early after a better-than-expected health situation.

IN NUMBERS What is the coronavirus situation in France now?

All children have to return to school from Monday. Photo: AFP

But there are still a few changes due to take effect on Monday.

Schools return fully

From Monday all children must once again attend school full time. France's schools were closed on March 16th, the day before the country went into lockdown, and then began to gradually reopen from May 11th.

However, strict hygiene rules and class size limits meant that many pupils were only attending part time, while other parents opted to continue home schooling.

From Monday the physical distancing rules have been relaxed and the 4 sqm space requirement per pupil has been scrapped, along with the 15-pupil limit on class sizes (or 10 for nurseries).

Until now sending children back to school has been optional for parents, but from Monday the usual rules resume and it will be once again compulsory to either send children to school, or register with the local authority for home-schooling.

Cinemas reopen

Even as theatres and bars reopened, cinemas across France have remained shut. However this will change on Monday when they will be allowed to reopen, albeit with hygiene measures in place such as gaps between audience members and masks.

READ ALSO These are the health rules French cinemas must follow as they reopen

Demonstrations

Although the 10-person limit on social gatherings in public places remains in place – with the exception of funerals which now have no limit – from Monday demonstrations or protests of 5,000 people or less will be allowed again.

Participants must try to respect physical distancing rules and wear a mask if this is not possible.

The Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place across France began when there was still a ban on large demos, but the Interior Minister decided to allow them to go ahead because of the strength of feeling on the issue.

Events with more than 5,000 people are not expected to be allowed before August 31st.

Distancing rules and compulsory masks remain in force on the Metro. Photo: AFP

Transport certificates

Even as lockdown was lifted, commuters in Paris who use public transport at rush hour have been obliged to have an attestation saying that their journey was essential.

This was a local measure brought in by Île-de-France transport authorities who first announced that it would be scrapped from June 22nd, then brought the date forward and scrapped the requirement on June 16th.

Wearing a mask is still compulsory on all public transport in France.

Introduced earlier

In his TV address to the nation on June 14th, president Emmanuel Macron brought forward several measures that had been scheduled to happen on June 22nd. 

That includeded republishing the green/orange map of France which shows the virus level in different parts of the country.

The latest map has only the overseas département of Mayotte in orange, while the whole of mainland France turned green.

This meant that in the Paris region, which had been an orange zone, bars, cafés and restaurants were permitted to reopen fully – indoor areas well as terraces.

Museums, tourist sites, gyms and swimming pools were also allowed to reopen from June 15th.

Also from June 15th, France reopened its borders to travellers from the EU, the UK and the Schengen zone.

READ ALSO The 10 lockdown rules that you still need to follow in France

Member comments

  1. Still dont understand these protests being allowed. Does it mean if there are enough protestors any demonstration can take place. About time laws made are upheld and not made subject to government whims

  2. We are arranging a social distancing picnic with friends in our local park. What is the number of people allowed for such a gathering?

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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 government’s Covid vaccine adviser Alain Fischer told France Info that he was in favour of making face masks compulsory on public transport again and said it is ‘being discussed” at government level.

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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