Permission forms, testing and working from home – France’s latest Covid-19 measures

For around 20 million people living in nine French cities the permission form has made a return to their daily lives, after the prime minister clarified that everyone out after 9pm in curfew zones will need an attestation.

Permission forms, testing and working from home - France's latest Covid-19 measures
French Prime Minister Jean Castex leaves the weekly cabinet meeting. Photo: AFP

The permission slip was a feature of daily life during the lockdown, when every trip outside the home required a signed, timed and dated form stating your reason for being out.

Now as France prepares to introduce a nighttime curfew in nine French cities, the forms are coming back.

Following President Emmanuel Macron's announcement on Wednesday night, France's Prime Minister Jean Castex held a press conference with the health minster, interior minister, economy minister and labour minister to lay out the full details of the new rules.

The curfew will be introduced at midnight on Friday (or 00.00am Saturday as Castex clarified) and concerns the entire greater Paris region of Île-de-France and the metropoles (cities and surrounding urban areas) of Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Montpellier.

Photo: screengrab FranceInfo

The curfew will run from 9pm to 6am for a period of four weeks – six weeks if the French parliament approves the extension the government has asked for.

The only reason to be out during curfew are;

  • For work or travelling to or from work
  • For health reasons
  • Offering help to someone in need
  • Transport (for example trains or planes, you will need to show a ticket as a reason to break curfew)
  • Walking the dog within the vicinity of the home

People out for those reasons will need an attestation similar to the ones required for trips outside the home during the lockdown. This will be published shortly on the French government website, said the prime minister.

The form will be made available to download onto a smartphone or handwritten versions will be accepted.

People caught outside during the curfew without an attestation or who do not fit into one of the exception categories face a €135 for a first offence, rising to a maximum of €3,750 or a six-month jail term for repeat offenders.

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said: “12,000 police and gendarmes will patrol each night between 9pm and 6am to ensure that people comply with the new rules.”

The prime minster stressed that the new rules were necessary because of the “sudden and spectacular” deterioration of the health situation, particularly in the big cities.

He reiterated Macron's request for people to limit their social activities, saying: “As we have a limit of six people in place for gatherings in restaurants, so we ask that people respect that limit in their own homes as well.”

Macron introduced the 'rule of six' in his speech, saying that private gatherings should not exceed six people, although this is a request rather than an order and there are no penalties in place for disobeying the rule.

The rule of six applies throughout France, not just in curfew areas.

READ ALSO How does France's 'rule of six' work?


Health minister Olivier Véran laid out the latest on the testing situation, saying that France has placed an order for the new fast-turnaround antigen tests.

These are nasal swabs like the PCR tests, but give results in 10 to 30 minutes.

Véran said France had a pending order of 5 million and they would be available in the “coming weeks”.

France is now testing 1.3 million people a week, but over the summer struggled to process results in time, with some people waiting up to 10 days for their results.

Véran said that 91 percent of people now get their test results within 48 hours, and the coming antigen tests would help speed up the process further.

He said the antigen test will not replace the PCR test, but can be used in situations where a quick result is an advantage, such as testing at airports.


The recommendation is for those who can to work from home. Macron in his speech said he would not be introducing a rule on this, pointing out that home-working (télétravail in French) was convenient for some, while for others – for example those living in small homes with young children – it was very difficult.

However, following complaints that some companies were putting pressure on employees to be in the office, Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said she would hold discussions with unions and businesses in curfew zones, suggesting that two or three days a week of remote working would help reduce crowding on public transport.

She said: “I will ask businesses, and especially those in curfew zones, to define a minimum number of days of remote working, for those who can work from home.”

Business support
Economy minister Bruno Le Maire outlined the support available to businesses in any of the nine curfew zones, acknowledging that the measures would be difficult for many.
The solidarity fund will be made available to all companies in curfew zones with less than 50 employees, “regardless of the sector to which they belong,” Le Maire said.
Since the government finished easing lockdown in June, only certain types of businesses such as tourism businesses had qualified for the fund.
All businesses in curfew zones will be able to apply for grants, which go up to €1,500 maximum – €10,000 maximum  for the tourism or hospitality sectors, such as bars and restaurants – if they had lost more than 50 percent of their average income that month (down from 70 percent previously).
Le Maire also specified that the comparison would be the three best months of 2019, rather than the annual average or the same month the previous year, as was the case until now.
Special government-backed bank loans will be extended and made accessible until June 2021.






Member comments

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


French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.