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‘I’m worried about infecting my parents’ – French plan a quiet Christmas as lockdown lifts

Lockdown has lifted in France and travel and socialising over Christmas will be possible - but how far do the French plan to take their newfound freedom? Isabella Solari spoke to some families about their holiday plans.

'I'm worried about infecting my parents' - French plan a quiet Christmas as lockdown lifts
Masked visitors at a Christmas market in Moselle, eastern France, on December 10th. Photo: AFP

On December 15th France lifted its six-week lockdown, which means that travel for any reason and socialising are again possible.

This means that people can go and visit their families over the holiday – but plenty of restrictions remain, including an 8pm curfew, while bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas have to keep shut.

READ ALSO What changes in France as lockdown lifts?

On top of this, the French Prime Minister has advised anyone planning to travel and visit family and friends that they should self-isolate for eight days beforehand. Children have been given a special dispensation to miss the last two days of school for this purpose.

So given all the restrictions, are French people planning a normal Christmas this year?

“I fear that we could pay the price of the easing of restrictions”, said Pauline, 70.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another lockdown in January or February.”

Most people we spoke to said their life won’t change much as lockdown lifts because restaurants, theatres etc are staying closed and going out in the evening is not possible because of the curfew.

Déconfinement (lifting lockdown) doesn’t change much for me because I still can’t go to restaurants with my friends or go to the theatre,' said Jacques, 32.

“The only thing that will change is that I can see my parents again.”

But he added that he agreed with the curfew, saying; “at least my neighbours won’t be having parties soon”.

But although seeing family is again possible, the government has urged caution, particularly for people whose relatives are in high-risk groups such as the elderly.

Marc, a 55-year-old from Paris told The Local: “I’m worried about travelling to see my parents this Christmas.

“I’m still planning to see them, but I’ll be wearing a mask and staying 1.5 metres away at all times, as will my kids”.

The eight-day self-isolation period before travel is a recommendation, not a rule, but the government's Scientific Council hopes this could flatten a post-Christmas spike in cases.

But Marie, 48, said: “It simply isn’t possible for me to quarantine for eight days.

“I am a nurse and I only just managed to get enough days off work to visit my parents, but I’ll be taking all the necessary precautions to keep my family safe and I get tested in my job every week.”

Even the students, sometimes scapegoated as being the 'superspreaders' of Covid-19 through unauthorised partying, have scaled down their plans.

French and international students living in Paris all said they expected the Christmas holidays to be a far cry from their usual celebrations. 

Most international students said they still planned to go home for the holidays, but many other countries have quarantines in place for travellers from France and other countries have their own restrictions – many tighter than France's.

Rachel, a 21-year-old British student studying in Paris said: “I won’t be doing the usual things I do with my friends at Christmas.

“I can travel to go home but we can’t have a party, go out to a restaurant and definitely not a bar. My Christmas will be very much spent at home with my close family members.”

The French government decided to keep the curfew in place for every day over the festivities (except for December 24th) to prevent people from throwing late-night parties to ring in the New Year.  

Member comments

  1. What a vast difference between the attitude of the English and French. The English guttersnipe press is filled with comments from Gammons complaining about their petty Christmas restrictions. If one can’t give one Christmas a miss there is something wrong with their single braincell.

  2. Refusal to take precautions is selfishness, nothing more – hence the English reaction by so many over there. Brexit has produced a racial exceptionalism, and this selfishness is a by-product of it.

    This isn’t just about ourselves, it’s to protect those around us. If ever we needed social cohesion, it’s now.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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