What are the rules on grocery shopping together during France’s second lockdown?

What are the rules on grocery shopping together during France's second lockdown?
Shoppers buy food at an open market in Mulhouse, northeast in France, on October 31st, 2020. Photo: AFP
While France's new round of confinement strictly forbids all non-essential outings, popping to the store is still allowed. But can you go together with someone else?

Grocery shopping features among the “essential errands” listed on the attestation everyone in France must bring on their outings during the lockdown. 

But the permission slip does not specify whether several people can go together, or if going to the store is an “individual” activity such as taking exercise.

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So what are the rules?

Based on the responses from the interior ministry to French media this spring, grocery shopping together with someone from the same household is not forbidden, but advised against.

During the first lockdown the interior ministry told Libération's fact checking website CheckNews stressed that outings should always be done solo if possible, and left it up to police officers to determine whether or not an outing together was justified.

There has been no general clarification from the government on whether the same rules apply this time, but nowhere is it stated that only one person can go to the store at the time.

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It could seem that there is more leeway this time, and Camille Chaize, spokesperson of the French interior ministry, told French regional paper La Voix Nord that driving to the shop in covoiturage (shared car) was allowed even with friends, as long as the other person sharing the car sat in the back and both wore masks.

 

The purpose of this lockdown is the same as the one in the spring – to reduce all trips outside the home to the absolute bare minimum and to get spiralling infection rates back under control and reduce pressure on French hospitals – some of which are already preparing to start transferring patients to Germany as they struggle to cope with patient numbers.

Do I have to be back within the hour?

No. The one hour-rule and 1 kilometre-limit only applies for individual physical exercise or taking the dog out for a walk.

However, you are supposed to stay within your own area, so driving off 50 kilometres to another supermarket could potentially earn you a fine (€135 for first time offenders).

“The rule is to go out quickly and within proximity of your home,” the interior minister told CheckNews in a more recent article.


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