Who has to self-isolate after Macron’s Covid-19 diagnosis?

With news that French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19 anyone he has recently met will need to self-isolate - and that includes a host of European heads of state as well as French politicians.

Who has to self-isolate after Macron's Covid-19 diagnosis?
Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte both need to self-isolate after his Covid-19 diagnosis. Photo: AFP

Macron tested positive on Thursday after developing symptoms, his office said, adding that he has shown only mild symptoms.

The president, 42, will self-isolate and continue to work remotely, the Elysée added.

But anyone who has recently been in close contact with him may also need to self-isolate for seven days before getting tested for the virus. The French health system defines a cas contact (contact case) as a person who has been within 1m or who has spent more than 15 minutes in a room with a positive case, in the absence of a mask.

The government suggested that Macron may have become infected while attending an EU summit in Brussels last week.


Macron greets Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. Photo: AFP

So who does that include?

Brigitte Macron – the president's wife. Brigitte, 67, has no symptoms but has been declared a contact case so will self-isolate. She had already self-isolated in October after coming into contact with a potential case, but tested negative. She also tested negative earlier in the week after a paying a visit to a hospital, according to French media. She has remained in the Elysée while Macron has travelled to La Lanterne, a hunting lodge on the Versailles estate that is an official residence of the French president.

Jean Castex – the prime minister. France's president and prime minister work closely together and have scheduled weekly lunches. Castex has already announced that he is a contact case and will self isolate.

Richard Ferrand – the head of the French parliament, Assemblée nationale. He had lunch at the Elysée on Tuesday and has declared himself a contact case.

The whole French government? The French Defence Council, which considers the latest Covid measures, and the Council of Ministers both met on Wednesday morning in meetings attended by Macron. However, the government says they are not considered contact cases because the meetings maintained the full protocol of gestes barrières (hygiene gestures) masks and physical distancing.

Alexis Kohler – Secretary General of the Elysée. The chief of staff at the presidential Elysée Palace has declared himself a contact case.

Marc Fesneau – the minister in charge of relations with the French parliament has also announced that he is self isolating.

Macron with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Photo: AFP

Antonio Costa – the prime minister of Portugal. The Portuguese president met Macron for lunch at the Elysée on Wednesday.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – the president of Egypt. The Egyptian president was hosted – controversially – by Macron earlier in he month. But as his visit took place on December 7th he may not need to self-isolate.

Charles Michel – president of the European Council. Macron on Monday hosted an event in Paris to mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),where he had lunch with Council president Michel.

Pedro Sanchez – prime minister of Spain. Also at the meal was the Spanish PM.

Angel Gurria – secretary general of the OED, was also president at the lunch.

Xavier Bettel – prime minister of Luxembourg. Bettel's office said he was self-isolating pending test results, as he had attended the same EU summit as Macron. Spokesmen for German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said they did not consider self-isolation necessary.

Alexander De Croo – prime minister of Belgium. His office also said he would self-isolate as a precaution.

Gérard Larcher – the president of the French Senate  has so far not been declared a contact case, but according to protocol he is the person who takes over if the French president dies.


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OPINION: Macron’s speech revealed his long game for France, but is it a game he can win?

In the wake of Emmanuel Macron's (unusually brief) speech to the nation and an orgy of blame and speculation, John Lichfield takes a look at how the turbulent months ahead are likely to play out in France.

OPINION: Macron's speech revealed his long game for France, but is it a game he can win?

In eight minutes on Wednesday evening, we saw the best of Emmanuel Macron and the worst of Emmanuel Macron. In his TV address to the nation, he was confident; he was solemn; above all he was brief.

He accepted that the hung parliament elected last Sunday reflected “deep divisions” in the country. He said that France  must “learn to govern differently…We must build new compromises…based on dialogue, open-mindedness and respect”.

But he failed to admit any share of responsibility in the impasse which voters have created. He said that he still had a “clear mandate” from his Presidential victory in April. He called for compromise but said that some of his own promises – no new taxes, no increased debt – were untouchable.

Hear more analysis from John and The Local team in our Talking France podcast.

In April, Macron acknowledged that he had won partly through the votes of people who disliked him but feared Marine Le Pen more. He promised to govern with them in mind. He hasn’t.

His alliance drifted through the parliamentary campaign without strongly defending Macron’s presidential programme, let alone coming up with new ideas to appease the voters, of Right or Left, who supported him on April 24th by default.

That is not the only reason for the mess that France is now in. Other factors played a part: voter fatigue; inflation; the perpetual French instinct to demand “change” but resist all changes; a campaign which largely ignored the gathering threats in the world outside.

France now finds itself, by accident, in a world which the present generation of French politicians have never known – a German, Italian, Spanish or Belgian world of coalitions, compromise and shifting alliances.

This was the world – a world of revolving-door governments –  which Charles de Gaulle devised the Presidency-dominated Fifth Republic to replace. Some argue that the return of parliamentary power will be A Good Thing.

It will generate more profound political debate and a culture of constructive compromise. I doubt it. The new National Assembly – with nine political groups, including large blocs from the Hard Left and Far Right – will be more bear-pit than Periclean Athens.

There has been a witch-hunt going on in the French media about who is “responsible” for the fact that Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National leaped from 8 seats to 89 in the new Assembly.

READ ALSO Is there really a ‘voter surge’ to the far-right in France?

The Left, both in France and abroad, has blamed President Macron’s Ensemble! alliance for failing to give clear advice to its supporters last Sunday to vote for the Left in two-way, second round contests with Lepennist candidates. As a result, they say Le Pen won at least 30 seats which might have gone to the Left-Green alliance, Nupes.

They fail to point out – and the French media has only belatedly started to point out – that exactly the same thing happened, only more so, with those Left voters who faced second round races between Macron and Le Pen candidates. Almost 60 percent of the Far Right victories – 53 – came in two-way contests  between the Rassemblement National and Macron’s Ensemble! alliance.

Exit polls vary but all of them suggest that voters of the Left  abstained, or even voted for Le Pen candidates, to “screw Macron” more than Macron voters abstained or voted Le Pen to “screw” the Left.

In effect, the Macron alliance and the Left-Green alliance shot themselves collectively in the feet by abandoning the so-called Republican Front against Le Pen. Each might have won at least 30 extra seats if both had voted for one another. The Macron alliance might even have just scraped a majority – which is presumably what Left-Green voters wanted to prevent.

A similar hue and cry is in progress against the Macron camp for its alleged willingness to work with Le Pen and her deputies in the new parliament. There has been some loose talk by some Macron allies. Most senior Macron lieutenants have ruled out deals or alliances with the Far Right bloc.

But what of Macron himself, who asked Marine Le Pen when they met on Tuesday whether she would contemplate joining a government of national unity? He asked the same of most of the party-leaders he met.

All refused and as Macron said in his eight-minute address, the idea is impractical and unjustified.

Why raise it at all then? Especially with Le Pen?

Partly, I think, because Macron believes that as President of the Republic he cannot pretend that the 89 Far Right deputies do not exist. Partly, I believe that Macron is playing a would-be clever waiting game.

He sees no real prospect of a long-term alliance with the 64 centre-right deputies. He expects in the short term to conduct  urgent business – including a new anti-inflation package  -through ad hoc alliances with the centre-right and moderate Left.

In the longer term, he believes (and maybe hopes) that such cooperation is doomed to fail. He wants to be seen to have given all combinations of parliamentary peace a chance before he “declares war” and calls a new legislative election next year.

Hence last night’s message. What are all the groups in parliament – including the three Macron-supporting ones – prepared to concede to allow the vital business of government to continue?

It might have been smarter politics if Macron had said, more clearly, that he also is ready to make concessions and listen to other people’s ideas.