Lockdown in France ‘not necessary at present’, says French PM

The French Prime Minister said on Thursday that it was holding off from imposing a third Covid lockdown because new infection numbers have stabilised and a vaccination rollout is accelerating.

Lockdown in France 'not necessary at present', says French PM
Prime minister Jean Castex, left, will be joined by health minister Olivier Véran for the press conference. Photo: AFP

Prime Minister Jean Castex told Thursday evening's press conference that the current state of the coronavirus epidemic in France did not warrant a new lockdown.

“A new lockdown can only be a last resort. Today’s situation does not justify it . . . we are not where we were in October,” he said.

“The objective we should set ourselves should not be to postpone (a lockdown) as long as possible, we should avoid it.”

The French PM did announce however that a new lockdown is to be imposed on the overseas territory of Mayotte.

School holidays begin on Saturday in some parts of France, and the PM confirmed that people will be able to travel over the holidays.

He said: “We have chosen not to limit travel between regions. Such a measure would have been justified if the circulation of the virus was very uneven between regions but this is not the case.”

He added that the great care that people took when travelling over the Christmas holidays – getting tests in advance, respecting rules and hygiene measures – saw the country avoiding a post-Christmas spike in cases.

READ ALSO February holidays in France – what are the rules and the official advice

The number of new cases of the virus reported per day. All graphics: French government
Last Friday France rowed back from imposing a third lockdown, instead opting to tighten restrictions already in place and close France's borders to non-EU travel.

This was described as a “last chance” to avoid another lockdown.

Covid-19 case numbers in France remain high but stable at around 20,000 new cases a day, but pressure is increasing on the country's hospitals with 64 percent of intensive care capacity now taken up with Covid patients.

The number of Covid patients in hospital recorded since March 2020

Castex said: “The health situation remains particularly fragile. Every day, France records an average of 20,000 new infections and 1,600 new hospitalisations.

“If the situation remains worrying, it is better than that in several of our neighbours”

“The mortality rate one of the lowest in Europe.”

Covid deaths around Europe per 1 million inhabitants

“The percentage of positive tests remains stable. . . The virus has not significantly increased its circulation these past weeks.”

There are also concerns around new, more contagious variants off the virus like the one first identified in the UK, which now accounts for 14 percent of all cases in France.

IN NUMBERS Are France's Covid stats good enough to avoid a third lockdown?

If, however, the health situation deteriorates, the government would “not hesitate to do what is necessary”, Castex added.

He said it was “not the time” to relax current restrictions, which include the closure of cafes and restaurants except for takeout meals, and of large shopping centres, and tough border restrictions, especially for non-EU travel.

Member comments

  1. The real reason is that these spineless creatures are afraid of any demonstrations and being unpopular because of next year’s elections.

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules will relax in France as the country ends compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes will take effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that will begin in February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.