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TOURISM

Paris and French Riviera labelled coronavirus ‘risk zones’ by Germany

Tourists travelling from the greater Paris and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur regions to Germany must take a Covid-19 test and quarantine upon their return, the German foreign ministry stated on Monday.

Paris and French Riviera labelled coronavirus 'risk zones' by Germany
Travellers who return from the Paris or Provence regions must subject to a Covid-19 test and self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. Photo: AFP

The greater Paris region of Île-de-France and the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, which includes tourist hubs on the French Riviera, were added to the German foreign ministry's list of 'risk areas' late on Monday evening.

All travel to these areas should be avoided unless the journey is “indispensable,” according to the German foreign ministry.

Travellers who return from these areas must undergo a Covid-19 test and self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

EXPLAINED: Which countries are quarantining travellers from France? 

The travel advice for any country on the German list of risk areas states that: “Before embarking on your journey, please check whether you have spent time in one of these areas in the last 14 days before entering Germany.

“Should this be the case, you must expect to be subject to mandatory testing and quarantine.”

France has seen a surge in the number of new coronavirus cases over the past weeks, with the daily tally reaching a new post-lockdown record several days in a row last week before peaking at nearly 5,000 new cases in 24 hours on Sunday. 

On Monday, the French public health agency confirmed 1,955 new cases, 15 new deaths, and 18 new clusters under investigation over the past 24 hours. 

MAP: Where in France are Covid-19 cases rising?

France has ramped up its national testing capacities over the past months, reaching a level of more than 635,000 tests per week according to the latest public data (up from 200,000 per week in June).

However health authorities say the rise in cases cannot solely be attributed to increased testing, as the positive testing rate (number of positive cases per 100,000) has risen to 3.6 percent.

On August 15th the UK enforced a mandatory 14-quarantine for all travellers from France, a decision that France has said it will respond to 'in the coming days'.

The rapid surge in the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases over the past weeks in France has seen the French government tighten health rules to curb the spread.

As of September 1st, masks will be compulsory both in the workplace and in schools for children aged above 11 and and teachers at all times.

READ ALSO: These are France's new rules on masks in workplaces

 

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STRIKES

France’s pension strikes: What to expect on January 31st

The final day of January marks the second - and almost certainly not the last - day of mass strike action in the ongoing battle between the French government and unions over pension reform. Here's what to expect on January 31st.

France's pension strikes: What to expect on January 31st

Unions have promised the ‘mother of all battles’ against Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the French pension system, including raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

5 minutes to understand French pension reform

However, the action for the moment is mostly concentrated into a series of one-day actions, with the first taking place on January 19th.

The next ‘mass mobilisation’ is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31st. It is supported by all eight French trades union federations, which means that support is likely to be high and disruption severe on certain services.

Workers in essential services such as transport must declare their intention to strike 48 hours in advance, allowing transport operators to produce strike timetables, which are usually released 24 hours in advance. We will update this story as new information is released.

Trains

Rail unions are strongly backing the action – on January 19th, 46 percent of all rail workers walked out, and unions say they expect a similar level of support on January 31st. This would likely lead to a similar level of disruption with around half of high-speed TGV trains cancelled and 9 out of 10 of local TER services. 

International services including Eurostar could also see cancellations or a revised timetable. 

City public transport

Workers on Paris’ RATP network also saw high levels of support for the previous strike – with most Metro lines running rush-hour-only services and some closed altogether, while buses ran a severely limited service. The full details of exactly what will be running will be revealed on Monday evening by RATP.

Other cities including Nice, Lyon and Nantes will likely see a repeat of severely disrupted bus, tram and Metro services.

Schools

The major teaching unions have called for another 24-hour walkout, so some schools are likely to close. The January 19th action saw roughly half of teachers across France walk out.

Ski lifts

The two unions that represent more than 90 percent of workers in ski resorts have called an ‘unlimited’ strike beginning on January 31st. So far Tuesday is the only confirmed strike day, but others could be announced. Strikes in ski resorts generally mainly affect the operation of ski lifts.

Petrol stations

The hardline CGT union has announced extra strike dates for workers at oil refineries, and also threatened blockades. This can result in shortages at petrol stations as supplies of petrol and diesel are blocked from leaving the refineries and reaching filling stations.

Power cuts 

CGT members working in the state electricity sector have also threatened more ‘direct action’ including power cuts to selected towns. This is not a legitimate strike tactic – in fact France’s labour minister says it is “a criminal offence” and will be punished accordingly – but it could happen nevertheless.

On January 19th two towns – one in the greater Paris region and one in northern France – lost power for a couple of hours in what was described as a deliberate cut. The union says it intends to target towns that elected MPs who support the pension reform.

Demos

January 31st will also see another day of marches and demonstrations in towns and cities around France. On January 19th more than 1 million people took to the streets and unions will be hoping for a similar turnout on January 31st. One striking feature of the demos on January 19th was the comparatively large turnout in smaller French towns that usually do not see large demos.

Other strike dates

The above information relates to January 31st only, and services before and after this date are expected to run as normal.

Some unions, however, have declared ‘unlimited’ strikes, so there could be disruptions on these services on other days – these include ski lift operators, truck drivers and oil refinery workers.

It is highly likely that further one-day or multi-day strikes will be announced for February and March, as the pension reform bill comes before parliament, you can keep up to date with out strike calendar HERE.

We will update this article as more information becomes available, and you can also keep up with the latest in our strike section HERE.

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