SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

France puts seven more départements on ‘red’ Covid-19 alert

French authorities placed seven more départements covering major cities such as Lille, Strasbourg and Dijon on the highest level of alert after coronavirus infections accelerated.

France puts seven more départements on 'red' Covid-19 alert
People stroll down Bordeaux's main shopping street Sainte-Catherine, where wearing a mask is compulsory to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: AFP

Of France's 101 mainland and overseas départements, 28 are now considered “red zones” where authorities will be able to impose exceptional measures to slow the number of new coronavirus cases.

Paris and the Rhone département encompassing the southeastern city of Lyon were the first to be placed on high alert by the government on August 14th after infection rates began to climb.

That prompted local officials to require face masks in all public spaces to slow the virus's spread, in hope of avoiding a spike in cases that could again overwhelm hospitals as autumn approaches.

MAP: The French towns and cities where face masks are compulsory outdoors

The Council of State, France's highest administrative court, meanwhile slightly modified orders requiring the wearing of masks in several cities in the eastern Bas-Rhine region, including Strasbourg, and in the southeast Rhone region covering Lyon.

It accepted health ministry arguments that citywide orders imposing the wearing of masks were reasonable, but ordered less restrictive measures in less built-up areas in Bas-Rhin – and in Rhone, changes to the orders to allow for the practice of sports.

The Santé Publique France health agency, which has warned of “exponential” caseload increases, said Saturday that 53 new outbreak clusters had been discovered in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number under investigation to 484.

Officials announced that 43 residents and 11 members of staff had tested positive for the virus in a care home for the elderly in Aveyron, southwest France, with two elderly people being hospitalised.

Twelve more Covid-19 deaths were reported, for an overall toll of 30,698 since the pandemic flared last March.

Concerns over infection risks have already prompted officials to close 22 schools after cases were detected just days after students returned from the summer break last week, and dozens of individual classes have also been suspended.

READ ALSO These are the health rules in place in French schools

On Sunday, the government said pre-school teachers as well as those with deaf students would soon be given transparent masks to facilitate comprehension at a crucial education stage for young children.

“More than 100,000 of these masks will be produced by the end of this month,” the state secretary in charge of people with disabilities, Sophie Cluzel, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

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.

SHOW COMMENTS