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

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has asked local authorities to ramp up police patrols following reports of increasing non-compliance with lockdown rules.

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

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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Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test


The government’s Covid vaccine adviser Alain Fischer told France Info that he was in favour of making face masks compulsory on public transport again and said it is ‘being discussed” at government level.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.