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HEALTH

French ski resorts to learn whether they can reopen

France's ski resorts are set to learn whether they can reopen, as ministers discuss the issue on Wednesday.

French ski resorts to learn whether they can reopen
Photo: AFP

Unlike neighbouring Switzerland, France has kept its ski resorts closed since lockdown was lifted in December.

A provisional reopening date of January 7th was given, but only if the health situation allowed, and winter sports businesses have been waiting anxiously for news.

Although people are allowed to travel to the mountains and ski resorts, ski lifts and all other infrastructure remains shut, ruling out most winter sports. Across France all bars, cafés and restaurants remain shut.

Business leaders say that there was an 80 percent drop in economic activity in mountain areas over the Christmas period, compared to the previous year.

The French government is holding a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday and among the items on the agenda is whether ski resorts can reopen as planned.

Although Covid-19 case numbers across the country are largely stable, there are several areas in the east of the country that are giving cause for concern, including several Alpine areas.

READ ALSO The graphs and numbers that show the latest Covid-19 situation in France

 

Among the options being considered by the government are reopening ski resorts with a 6pm curfew in place or reopening resorts only in areas with low case numbers.

However keeping them closed entirely has also not been ruled out.

In the government's original plan for lifting lockdown cultural centres like cinemas and museums were scheduled to reopen on January 7th while bars and restaurants opened on January 20th – however both of those have been effectively ruled out as case numbers have not fallen to the target of less than 5,000 new cases a day.

The government has scheduled a press conference for Thursday to provide an update on the latest health situation and the expansion of the vaccination programme.

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STRIKES

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.

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