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HEALTH

French police told to crack down on large outdoor gatherings

The French interior minister has asked police to issue to fines to people who gather in groups of more than six outside, especially in areas such as parks, gardens and riverbanks.

French police told to crack down on large outdoor gatherings
Parisians flocked to the Seine riverbanks on Saturday, March 20th, the first day of the lockdown 'light' in France. Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wants to put an end to scenes of large outdoor gatherings, and has told regional authorities to reinforce policing, according to a document seen by French media.

He has asked that “public gatherings of more than six people are subject to strict fines”. The crackdown is for the whole country and not just those areas recently placed under a new ‘lockdown light’.

France banned gatherings of more than six people in public during the second lockdown in October, but few are familiar with the rule and police rarely enforce it.

This will now change, as the interior minister in his note asked for reinforced policing of parks, gardens and riverbanks to prevent scenes as seen in Paris during the first weekend of the new restrictions, when scores of people gathered by the Seine to enjoy the sunny weather.

Breaking the rule could be punishable with a €135 fine, rising to €3,750 and six months in jail for repeat offenders.

Protests, large families, work gatherings and funeral ceremonies are exempt from the rule, the interior ministry specified.

The government has also asked that people living in areas free from lockdown measures limit their private gatherings to six people, but this is a guideline, not a rule.

MAP: Is your French département at risk of being placed under ‘lockdown light’?

In the 16 départements on lockdown, the government has asked that everyone stops inviting people from outside their household to their homes. Instead they should meet up with friends or extended family outside in public in small groups.

For full details on the Covid-19 rules and guidelines, click HERE.

This comes as Covid-19 rates continue to soar, with three additional départements set to be added to the list of areas currently on the new lockdown.

Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a press conference on Thursday at 6pm to lay out the latest health situation. He is not expected to announce new measures for the 16 départements currently on tighter measures.

The president of the greater Paris region Île-de-France Valerie Pecresse has suggested bringing forward school holidays by two weeks to help stem the third wave.

Despite cases rising among schools, leading to classes being sent home, the government has insisted closing them is still a last resort.

Member comments

  1. “police rarely enforce it”

    What police? I was at the quai 4 weekends ago and there were maybe a thousand people on the small stretch close to sully-morland, and 4 cops there. Are 4 cops going to fine everyone? In the whole year since this whole thing started I’ve never seen a single police stopping anyone for an attestation, never mind fining them, and I live near Place de la Republique so not exactly a small quiet back-street. In fact, apart from at the usual manifs and that one time 4 weeks ago, I’ve never seen any police patrols on the street even pretending to enforce curfews/lockdowns.

    The idea of “reinforced policing” assumes that there’s actual “policing” going on in the first place, which there’s no evidence of. If the interior minister wants people to start obeying the rules he needs to actually put more actual boots on the street to do it, not just tell the 1-2 guys that are allegedly there already to “work harder”.

  2. Lock downs don’t work. Masks don’t work and become filthy and actually make one sick. Stop listening to hysteria by the media. Be sensible.

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POLITICS

‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief. 

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