Those who can remember as far back as the distant past of May when France began to emerge from lockdown (and doesn't that seem like a long time ago?) may recall that the country was split into red zones and green zones, with different rules depending on which zone you lived in.
As France now sees rapidly rising Covid-19 case numbers, health authorities have once again assigned colours to different areas.
While the health ministry is labelling certain departements as “red zones” which means local authorities have extra powers, the health body Santé Publique France (SPF) has a different system.
It labels départements according to the spread of Covid-19 cases with the categories “elevated”, “moderate” and “low” depending on the circulation of the disease.
Here's how it works;
Dark blue – 'Elevated' – départements where more than 50 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days
Light Blue – 'Moderate'– départements with between 10 and 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days
Grey – 'Low' – fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 people
The designations can change every day – click here for the latest updates.
Health Ministry “red zones”
France's health ministry used the data from SPF to decide which areas should be classed as “red zones”
Départements that are labelled as red zones gain extra powers for their local authorities to impose rules and restrictions if they believe it necessary. Authorities in the Marseille département of Bouches-du-Rhône have used this power to close the city's bars at 12:30am each night.
Among the other powers that authorities can use are;
- A restriction on movement – this could include restriction movement in certain areas or bringing in travel restrictions similar to those seen in May when all non-essential trips of more then 100km were banned. There could also be a ban on non-essential trips in or out of the département
- Closure of bars and restaurants – local authorities have the power to close specific businesses if they are linked to a Covid cluster, or more generally either close all of a certain type of business or impose restrictions, such as limiting bars and cafés to serving on outside terraces only.
- Limits on gatherings – the decree states that local authorities in red zones can “prohibit, regulate or restrict gatherings or meetings” including religious gatherings but not funerals.
Local authorities also have the power to impose extra mask rules, but this is not related to zones, all authorities have the power to do this if they choose