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Calendar: Which Covid restrictions on sports are lifted when in France?

As France began to gradually ease its partial lockdown on Monday, some rules restricting physical activities disappeared. But gyms and sports stadiums have to wait a bit longer before welcoming visitors back.

Calendar: Which Covid restrictions on sports are lifted when in France?
The dreaded 1km-limit never made a comeback during the third lockdown in France imposed this spring, and joggers have been able to run freely within a 10km-limit from their home. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP

The phased easing of partial lockdown measures in France offered hope for gyms and sports clubs, which had to shut down last autumn as part of restrictive measures aimed at reducing the country’s rising Covid-19 rates.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is approaching,” the French sports minister, Roxana Maracineaunu, said in a tweet on Sunday, where she laid out which limits on exercise would disappear the following day.

President Emmanuel Macron presented the plan to reopen the country last week. It will be a gradual process containing four stages, with the option to delay if the health situation deteriorates. 

IN DETAIL: France’s calendar for reopening after lockdown

These are the dates to look out for in relation to sports and leisure activities:

Phase 1: May 3rd

Whereas during the first and second lockdowns in 2020, runners, cyclists and other sports enthusiasts had to contain their practice within 1 kilometre of their home, the partial lockdown in April 2021 allowed free movement up to 10 kilometres when practising individual sports (30 kilometres for club sports).

The government also let outdoor group sports outside go ahead, as long as participants respected social distancing and other health rules. Practising yoga in groups in the park or playing tennis or golf therefore remained possible throughout the partial lockdown in April.

On May 3rd the 10 kilometre-limit on non-essential outings disappeared, effectively ending geographical restrictions on individual sporting activities during daytime.

The nighttime curfew remained in place. All sporting activities were still be banned between 7pm and 6am (except walking the dog or other pets, within 1km of home).

In schools, sport activities resumed both indoors and outdoors, following a rescheduled holiday period and additional long distance-schooling for some groups enforced to reduce spread of the virus.

Rules on outdoor practices of groups sports remained unchanged. The rules, updated on April 8th, allowed for groups of up to six people participating at the same time, while keeping a 2 metre-distance between themselves. This rules out contact sports but would allow, for example, pétanque as long as people are sufficiently distanced.

Phase 2: May 19th 

If the health situation permits, the nighttime curfew will be pushed back to 9pm (from 7pm currently), which means it will be possible to go for a run, walk, bike ride or other until that time.

Sports stadiums will be allowed to reopen, though under strict health rules and with limits on participants (800 for open-air stadiums and 1,000 for covered ones).

Gyms and swimming pools can also reopen to children – at present under 18s can only access gyms and pools as part of a school sports lesson or organised school outing. They will remain closed for adults, with the exception of those who have been medically prescribed exercise.

Phase 3: June 9th 

If the health situation allows, the curfew will be postponed to 11pm.

Gyms will be able to reopen for adults following eight months of closures, although with limits on the number of people allowed at the same time and with strict health protocols in place. It might be done on a local basis if case numbers remain high in certain areas.

Swimming pools can also reopen to the general public on this date, again with extra health rules and restrictions on user numbers in place.

In his interview last week, President Macron said the coming pass sanitaire (health pass), which will be a proof of vaccine or a recent negative Covid test, was unlikely to become a requirement to enter establishments that regularly receive the public, such as bars, restaurants and cinemas, but also gyms.

Full details on France’s plans for a health pass HERE.

Contact sports will be allowed, which includes team sports such as rugby and football (although judging by the scenes in parks, most people seem unaware that these sports were banned for the general public).

Cultural or sporting events with up to 5,000 people will be allowed, but on the condition that participants provide a health pass proving that recently tested negative for Covid-19 or have been vaccinated for the virus.

Phase 4: June 30th

The curfew ends.

The limits on establishments receiving public – such as gyms – will disappear, but this depends on the health situation at that time and the government may decide to do this on a local basis.

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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.