Gyms and swimming pools across the country have been closed since October, when France entered its second lockdown.
However there is an exemption for those with prescription médicale d’activité physique adaptée (APA) – a medical certificate prescribing sport as a treatment for those battling long-term or chronic illness.
Elite athletes and sports professionals also have the right to use the facilities.
However, a number of people are reportedly convincing their doctors to give them an APA just to cover their normal workouts. The increase in online medical consultations – promoted as a safer option for many during the pandemic – has also been blamed for this.
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President of the medical union Confédération des syndicats médicaux français (CSMF) Jean-Paul Ortiz told Le Parisien: “It shows how many non-regulated virtual consultations are opening the door to these practices.
“The consultations should be limited to a person’s registered doctor (médecin traitant), getting an APA certificate virtually is not good medical practice.”
Owners of gyms and swimming pools have difficulty scrutinising the certificates and questioning those entering their doors given the privacy surrounding such medical matters.
Not only that, but after six months of closure, many owners are turning a blind eye to the dodgy certificates to keep their business afloat.
One gym owner told Le Parisien: “I’m accepting simple medical certificates [rather than specific APAs].
“I know that isn’t the rule, but it’s either that or I’m going to lose a client who will then go into another gym which will say yes. At the moment I need the money. As a gym owner, Covid has hit us hard.”
Police are nonetheless cracking down on gyms and their users.
Regular patrols are taking place in the gyms of Paris and across the country.
At the start of April, 23 people were given a warning for not being able to show a medical certificate at gyms in Marseille. Two gyms were also given a formal warning and one was forced to close for 15 days.