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What changes about life in France in August 2021

What changes about life in France in August 2021
What changes in France in August 2021. Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP
As a cool, wet July across most of France turns into what forecasters predict will be an equally cool, wet August - at least for the first couple of weeks - we look at what is set to change this month … which includes changes to the Covid-19 health pass, another gas price hike, and a public holiday.

Health pass extension

It has been at the top of the news agenda in France for some time. Since July 21st, the health pass has been mandatory for entry to cultural, sports and leisure venues hosting at least 50 people.

In August, MPs and senators have agreed, the pass will be mandatory in cafes, bars, and restaurants – including terraces – as well as for visitors to hospitals and retirement homes.

Shopping centres may also require the presentation of a pass, if required by departmental prefects because of local levels of Covid-19.

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The health pass bill, though approved by MPs, is now being scrutinised by the powerful Conseil Constitutionnel. Its verdict is expected on August 5th.

The extension of the health pass is then expected to take effect on August 9th.

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READ ALSO France set to enforce Covid health pass in bars, restaurants and trains from August 9th

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari also conceded that health pass checks on trains, though ‘massive’, may not be ‘systematic’, following a rejection of the plans from rail unions.

Gas prices to rise again

After July’s near 10 percent increase in regulated gas prices, they will increase again on August 1 by 5.3 percent. How the increase breaks down for cooking, heating or hot water have not yet been announced.

About 3.1million households will be affected by the increase to a tariff that is due to disappear on July 1, 2023.

Electricity prices are going up

Between 30 and 40 percent of everyone’s electricity bill goes towards a tax, known as the Tarif d’Utilisation des Réseaux Publics d’Électricité (TURPE), to help cover the cost of maintaining and modernising the electricity network, as well as the transition to renewable energy sources.

The level of this tax is adjusted annually. On August 1, it will increase between 0.97 percent and 1.57 percent, depending on tariffs.

Watch out for holiday traffic…

August is the traditional main holiday month in France, in which cities and towns empty as people go away on holiday. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic still at large, most French are opting to holiday in France rather than going abroad, and the majority are going away by car. That means increased traffic on the roads, perhaps even more than usual.

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Roads watchdog Bison Fute has predicted July 31st to be the worst day for travel – but it has also forecast busy periods throughout the month of August, notably Saturday 7th, 14th and 21st.

… and public transport closures …

If you live in Paris, transport will run less smoothly than usual in August as authorities take advantage of lower passenger numbers to do works on the city’s Metro and train routes. 

… and some shops will shut for the month, too

Many small, independently owned businesses close for the month of August, so don’t rely on a particular shop being open. Likewise if you’re dealing with an official or someone in an office don’t be surprised if you get an out-of-office reply telling you that they will be back in September.

Back to school allowance pay-day
 
As of August 18th, more than 3 million French will receive the government back-to-school allowance, ARS, which was set up to help low-income families pay for their children’s education.
The rates – which are means-tested – are as follows for 2021:
  • Children aged 6-10 on January 1st, 2021: €370,31
  • Children aged 11-14: €390,74
  • Children aged 15-18: €404,28

No date has yet been confirmed when the payments will be made automatically to eligible families – but the CAF website has said it will be the ‘second-half of August’. Payments are usually made around August 18th.

Pass’sport launch

Designed to facilitate access to sports for young people, the pass’sport launches on August 15th. Children aged six to 18 whose families receive the back-to-school allowance or the allowance for children with disabilities may be eligible for €50 aid towards the cost of registration in a sports club at the beginning of the school year.

Eligible families will receive their Pass’Sport by post. They can present it to the sports clubs of their choice. The amount of the aid is paid directly to the clubs and covers all or part of the cost of registration or licence.

Last month for 2020 meal vouchers

The extended validity period for 2020 meal vouchers ends on August 31.

The vouchers, sometimes offered or subsidised to employees as part of a work contract, can be used at traditional restaurants, hotels and brasseries offering catering services, or fast food outlets – including click and collect deliveries – as well as supermarkets and food stores.

Solidarity fund

At the beginning of the health crisis the government and the regions set up a solidarity fund to support small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs, the self-employed and the liberal professions, affected by the economic consequences of Covid-19.

Companies have until August 31st to submit their application for assistance from the solidarity fund for any losses incurred in June 2021. They will receive compensation of around 40% of the loss of activity in June 2021 compared to June 2019, 30% of the loss of activity in July 2021 compared to July 2019, and 20% of the loss of activity in August 2021 compared to August 2019.

A public holiday

Assumption, on August 15th is, officially, a public holiday in France – but as it falls on a Sunday this year you probably won’t really notice. Those shops and venues that are open may operate reduced hours.

The weather

Sadly, it appears the weather isn’t changing for the better – at least, not immediately. July had been cooler and wetter than in previous years, and forecasters have warned that we should expect a fairly miserable start to August. 

They predict a parade of ‘cold drops’ will scoot towards France from the North Atlantic, leading to lower-than-average temperatures and plenty of rain across a large part of the country. Only the far south will avoid the worst of the weather.

Experts have raised the hope that temperatures are expected to rise in the second-half of the month – and there may even be a heatwave to bask in just before rentrée in September.


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