France ramps up curfew controls as police carry out more than 600,000 checks

France ramps up curfew controls as police carry out more than 600,000 checks
Police issue curfew checks at a toll station in the western outskirts of Paris on January 31st. Photo: AFP
France has increased police checks by 30 percent as it ramps up curfew enforcement in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a third lockdown.

In total, 600,000 police checks have taken place since the France imposed a nationwide 6pm curfew on January 16th, according to the interior ministry.

The interior ministry said Sunday that police had performed 65,000 checks on Saturday, with 6,000 people fined for breaking the rules, and that checks now were ramped up by 30 percent.

 

“People in France should know that after 6pm they face a big risk of being stopped and possibly fined,” said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Across France no-one is allowed out between the hours of 6pm and 6am unless they fall into one of the exempt groups. Everyone who is out needs an attestation permission form stating their reason for leaving home.

READ ALSO These are the rules of France's 6pm nationwide curfew

 

As well as officers on foot, police have also set up roadblocks, including checks on the Paris ringroad on Sunday.

 

But police received criticism for their choice of checkpoints on Sunday, with their particular targeting of motorways saw people fined for being caught in traffic jams.

 

Traffic jams spanning 400 kilometres in and out of Paris saw drivers blocked for hours in queues.

“I don't think this kind of action helps the acceptability of the measure,” said Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire in a tweet.

“They don't pose any risk to others than themselves,” he wrote, urging police to show leeway when necessary, “otherwise people will grow tired of this.. very quickly.”

 

But cracking down harder on post-curfew activity was part of President Emmanuel Macron's revised coronavirus strategy presented on Friday evening, after the decision by the government Defence Council to not impose a third nationwide lockdown.

READ ALSO: France closes non-EU borders and tightens curfew in last chance to avoid third lockdown

To ensure compliance with the rules, the government has said police will be more present and less lenient during checks, be it post-curfew activity without legitimate reason, restaurants maintaining an illegal underground activity or private businesses not respecting general health rules.

“We still have a chance to avoid lockdown,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said during Friday's press conference.

The government has said it is now the “responsibility of the French” to avoid another flare-up in Covid-19 cases – which have been rising slowly but steadily since the New Year – even if several health experts have recommended an early, swifter lockdown rather than a later and longer one.

The Finance ministry has also warned that restaurants that open up in defiance of the rules face losing financial aid from the state.


Member comments

  1. How mean is that? Giving fines to people stuck in traffic jams. Which life are we going to ‘save’ with that action? I bet most of those people are just going home, already fustrated standing in a traffic jam. It just proves it ones again, it has nothing to do with the ‘pandemic’ but all about controle.

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