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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

This Week in France: What you need to know

From possible to new Covid restrictions to a lot of new laws, here's what's coming up this week in France.

During the 2020 New Year's Eve, the Champs de Mars were empty due to a curfew designed to stem the spread of Covid in France.
During the 2020 New Year's Eve, the Champs de Mars were empty due to a curfew designed to stem the spread of Covid in France. This year could see similar scenes. (Photo by Stefano RELLANDINI / AFP)

Monday 

New Covid restrictions to be discussed 

In response to record high Covid rates, the French government is holding a high level meeting of the Health Defence Council, chaired by president Emmanuel Macron. Following the meeting, scheduled to start at 4pm, it is possible that further Covid restrictions will be announced. 

Tuesday 

Midwives go on strike 

Midwives in France will begin a strike set to last until December 31st. They are demanding higher salaries. While not every midwife in the country will be taking part in the action. It is likely that some neonatal clinics will be significantly understaffed. 

Wednesday 

National Assembly begins review of vaccine pass bill 

A special commission in the lower house of the French parliament will examine the government’s proposal to introduce a vaccine pass to replace the health pass.

Both the National Assembly and the Senate will debate the vaccine pass – which would not allow unvaccinated people the option to present a negative test to access bars, cafés, leisure and cultural venues etc – before it can be approved. You can read more about how the vaccine pass would work HERE

Friday 

(Limited) New Year’s Eve celebrations

Many local authorities have already cancelled the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks and concerts, while most have also imposed a ban on unlicensed gatherings on New Year’s Eve.

It is possible that the government will also introduce a curfew, meaning that revellers cannot stay out into the early hours of the morning. Currently, only the eastern city of Strasbourg has imposed such a measure – and even then only for the under 16s. 

Full details on any new New Year restrictions will be released later on Monday.

Saturday 

A raft of new legislation comes into force 

The beginning of a new year marks the moment that many new laws come into force.

From January 1st, a new tax on vehicle weight will be enacted; it will become illegal to kill male baby chicks; courrier fees will increase by 4.7 percent; the destruction of non-food waste will be made illegal; Bordeaux will introduce a 30 km/h speed limit; contraception will become free for women under the age of 25; and Brits living in France will be legally obliged to hold a titre de séjour

READ ALSO What changes in France in 2022? 

New Year’s Day

January 1st is a public holiday in France, meaning that some shops are likely to be closed. However, because the public holiday falls on a Saturday this year there is no extra day off for most workers.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in August 2022

The long sultry days of summer are usually fairly quiet in France, as parliament breaks for the summer and huge swathes of the population head to the beach. But 2022 is not an ordinary year - here's what changes in August.

What changes in France in August 2022

End of the health pass

Senators have now ratified a new health bill that formally ends the Covid-19 health emergency and repeals emergency laws introduced at the height of the pandemic.

In practical terms, it means that – from August 1st – the suspended vaccine pass cannot be reimposed, nor can mask mandates, lockdowns, curfews, or other health measures allowed for under emergency legislation. Masks for hospitals and health establishments and on public transport remain ‘strongly recommended’, however, and private businesses as always have the right to require customers to wear a mask.

Mandatory health checks at French borders may, however, be reintroduced if necessary.

No more conseil scientifique

As a consequence of the repeal of the emergency health laws, France’s conseil scientifique (scientific council) which advised the government throughout the Covid-19 crisis, will be disbanded. It currently has no replacement, but a new body for monitoring, anticipating and advising on new health crises may be formed.

Savings

A small boost for savers: the interest rate for the Livret A savings scheme – a tax free instant access savings account available to all – doubles from 1 percent to 2 percent, a level unseen since 2011.

Rates for the Livret d’épargne populaire, meanwhile, will increase from 2.2 percent to 4.6 percent. 

Minimum wage

Due to rising inflation, the minimum wage – known as the Smic – scheme automatically rise by 2.01 percent on August 1st – its fourth increase this year. After taxes and social charges, workers on Smic will see their hourly pay increase from €8.58 to €8.76 – or €1,329 per month for a full-time employee.

Fuel prices

Plans to phase out the 18 cents per litre fuel rebate on petrol (gasoline) and diesel in response to rising oil prices were originally supposed to take effect from July 31st. Good news – the current rate has been extended to August 31st, after which it will be increased to 20c per litre in September and October and then drop to 10c per litre. 

READ ALSO Why this weekend might be a good time to fill up your car in France

Macron bonus

The so-called Macron bonus (prime Macron) – introduced in 2018 as an optional one-off tax and social charge-free bonus given by employers to boost spending power following the Yellow Vest protests and repeated every year since – has been renamed, recalculated and made permanent. 

From August 1st, it will be called the Prime de partage de la valeur, and employees in profit-sharing schemes can receive up to €6,000 as opposed to the current €2,000 maximum. Those not on such schemes can receive up to €3,000. From 2024, the bonus payment will be subject to taxes and social charges.

MPs break

In a normal year, a Parliamentary session runs from the first working day of October to the last working day of June. This is not an ordinary year. France’s National Assembly was supposed to rise for the summer on July 27th. But the current extraordinary session of Parliament has been extended until August 7th to allow for debate on the government’s bill on purchasing power. 

MPs will not return to the hemicyle until October 3rd, with the government deciding not to reconvene parliament in September for the first time in 20 years, to give itself time for consultation on a range of bills.

READ ALSO The 8 signs that August has arrived in France

Public holiday

The Catholic festival of Assumption is a public holiday in France. It is on August 15th which this year is a Monday, allowing a nice long weekend for the people who are still working in August.

School holidays

Schools remain on holiday until the end of August, with kids returning to the classroom on Thursday, September 1st.

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