MAP: These are the areas of France under curfew

Some 46 million inhabitants in France must be home by 9pm, following a strict nighttime curfew that entered into effect in 38 new départements this weekend.

MAP: These are the areas of France under curfew
Toulouse's streets were empty after 9pm this weekend, as the southwestern city obeyed a nighttime curfew set in place to slow down the spread of Covid-19. Photo: AFP

In total 54 of the country's 96 mainland départements are now on a nighttime curfew.

The curfew runs from 9pm to 6am and during that time people are only allowed out of their homes for essential reasons and everyone must carry a permission form stating their reason for being out.

This is in response to a worsening health situation in France with spiralling numbers of cases and an increasing number of hospitals reporting that intensive care units are filling up with Covid-19 patients.

You can find the form HERE.

Breaking curfew can earn you a €135 fine or a €3,750 fine and six months in jail for repeat offenders.

READ ALSO What you need to know about France's nighttime curfew

Some of the parts of France worst-affected by Covid-19 were placed under curfew on Friday, October 16th, and a large tranche of others joined them on Friday, October 23rd.

The nine areas which went into curfew in the first wave – coloured dark blue on the map – are the whole of the greater Paris Île-de-France region and the metropole (city and surrounding urban areas) of Lille, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Grenoble, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen and Toulouse.

The newly added 38 départements are coloured mid blue on the map.

Just to add extra confusion, the majority of the curfew zones in the first phase were done on a metropole basis, while the second phase concerns entire départements.

So for example in the Rhône département, currently only the city of Lyon and its suburbs are affected, but from midnight on Friday the restriction extends to cover the whole département.

The areas covered pale green on the map currently have no curfew in place.

However even non-curfew zones still have restrictions in place. The 'rule of six' on gatherings in private spaces extends to the whole country, although this is a government recommendation rather than an actual rule so you won't have gendarmes knocking on your door to count your dinner guests.

READ ALSO What you should know about France's 'rule of six'

And masks are compulsory in all public enclosed spaces such as shops and public transport, while most towns and larger cities have also made them compulsory on the street.

Areas on level 1 have no curfew, level 2 entered curfew on October 23rd and level 3 entered curfew on October 16th.

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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.