French rail passengers to get temperature tests

French rail operator SNCF has announced a plan to begin offering temperature tests to passengers before they board trains.

French rail passengers to get temperature tests
Photo: AFP

Over the summer, SNCF is to test a programme of voluntary temperature tests for TGV passengers before they board trains, beginning on Tuesday at Gare de Lyon in Paris.

'Health kiosks' will be set up on the platforms and offer temperature screening via a thermal camera.

The testing is voluntary, each test takes four seconds and passenger data will not be stored.

The rail operator said one of the main purposes of the trial was to assess the practicalities of screening passengers before travel.

An SNCF spokesman said the idea was to “check under real conditions the fluidity of boarding a TGV Inoui train if a temperature control system is installed”.

If a patient records a temperature of above 38.5C, SNCF will be notified and will offer the passenger a new surgical mask, hand gel and a reminder about barrier gestures.

If the passenger wants, they can cancel or postpone their trip free of charge, but the company said they would not be banned from travelling.

At present the system is just a trial running in a few selected stations, and SNCF says its purpose is to allow them to be prepared if such controls become necessary in the future, particularly if the feared 'second wave' arrives in the autumn.

“The aim is to prepare in case such controls are requested by the government in the event of a second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic,” said Alain Krakovitch, Director of Voyages SNCF.

“It would be incomprehensible if we were not prepared in case of a new crisis.”

Passengers arriving at some French airports, including Charles de Gaulle, are also offered temperature checks and Covid-19 testing on a voluntary basis.

Face masks are compulsory on all French public transport services and in any enclosed public space, at risk of a €135 fine.

READ ALSO When and where do you need to wear a face mask in France?

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‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief.