France to increase police checks to crack down on lockdown rule breakers

France to increase police checks to crack down on lockdown rule breakers
Police in the capital might be stricter when enforcing the lockdown rules in the coming days. Photo: AFP
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has asked local authorities to ramp up police patrols following reports of increasing non-compliance with lockdown rules.

Darmanin said police presence must be bolstered across the country and asked law enforcement to apply a “a particular firmness on the ground.”

“Anyone who does not have a legitimate reason (to be outside) must be fined,” the interior minister told local authorities in a written note obtained by French media.

France imposed its second nationwide lockdown on October 30th, limiting outings to a strict minimum of “essential errands” such as work, school or grocery shopping.
After phase of “explanation and necessary education … everyone must now be aware of the need to strictly respect the rules of confinement,” Darmanin said.

The second lockdown has more relaxed rules than the strict lockdown imposed in March and April, but French media reports have shown a less rigid compliance to the rules this time.

Sixty percent of respondents to a poll published on Thursday admitted to having broken the lockdown rules. That was 27 percent higher than in the spring. The poll, published by Consolab and conducted by the French polling institute Ifop, showed that 24 percent exceeded the one hour-limit for exercise outings, while 23 percent visited family and 20 percent friends.

To clamp down on offenders the interior minister asked for more police presence everywhere, “at checkpoints.. (including stations and airports)”, but also parks, gardens and on streets.

Police should crack down on “private gatherings, gatherings in public places, closing down establishments that receive the public, as well as individual journeys that do not correspond with authorised reasons for travel,” according to the note.

The interior minister especially wanted to reinforce checks in Paris, where hospitals on Wednesday reported that Covid-19 patients occupied 90 percent of intensive care beds.

Police have issued 65,000 fines since the beginning of lockdown on October 30th, of which 20,000 were handed out in the greater Paris region Île-de-France, the interior ministry informed French media on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex will speak live 6pm on Thursday to present the way ahead as the lockdown reached its two-week mark. Here's a look at what to expect from the press conference.

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