This week in France: What you need to know

A man looks at the Eiffel Tower during sunset.
A man looks at the Eiffel Tower during sunset. The end of the Christmas holidays in France will be ushered in with a raft of new Covid measures. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)
The end of the festive holidays in France will be ushered in with new Covid rules at schools and in the workplace. Here's what you need to know about the week ahead.


Remote working rules come into force

The government is enforcing new remote working rules for a period of at least three weeks to avoid the spread of Covid-19, amid record new case numbers. The regulations say that for situations where it is possible, companies should adopt a minimum of three remote working days per week – with four remote days the target. Businesses face tough sanctions if they fail to follow the new protocol, with a fine of €1,000 per employee not conforming to rules. 

Back to school 

Children across France return to school on Monday – even though some politicians had called for the holidays to be extended in light of the ongoing Covid pandemic. Last week the government announced rigorous new testing requirements for pupils when a classmate tests positive. 

READ MORE France set to introduce new Covid testing rules for schoolchildren

Venue limits enforced 

Most local authorities cancelled the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks and concerts. From Monday capacity limits of 2,000 people for inside events and 5,000 people for outside events, will be introduced. The limits do not apply to industry fairs, zoos or theme parks. They also do not apply to political rallies, for reasons you can read more about HERE

Vaccine pass to be debated in National Assembly

The French government hopes to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass by mid-January but must first get approval from the parliament. Monday marks the start of the debate over whether to adopt this measure, which would mean that a negative test will not be accepted as a a means of gaining entry to various public venues. 

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See also on The Local:

READ MORE What will change when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

New mask wearing rules

Children over the age of six-years-old will have to wear masks in certain public spaces including markets and public transport according to a decree published on Saturday. Previously, this rule only applied to those over 11-years-old. This regulation does not apply to artistic and sporting activities.

Masks will also be required in all town centres.

READ MORE LATEST: Where to wear a face mask in France

New self-isolation rules 

The amount of time you need to spend self isolating if you are a contact case or have tested positive for Covid-19 is decreasing from Monday. If you are over 12-years-old, fully vaccinated and have tested positive, you must now self isolate for five days and if you take a negative test on the fifth day and have been asymptomatic for the last 48 hours, you can leave self isolation. You can read more about the new rules HERE

Ministerial Covid meeting 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has called a ministerial meeting at 4pm to reassess the country’s Covid situation. French media report that hospitals, schools, transport, the armed forces, law enforcement and the energy sector will all be discussed. It is unclear whether new measures will emerge as a result of this meeting.


Health Defence Council meeting 

France’s Health Defence Council holds its regular Wednesday meeting to discuss the ongoing pandemic and whether new measures are needed.


Galette du Rois 

Thursday, January 6th marks the Christian festival of Epiphany. This is not a public holiday in France (unlike neighbouring Spain where they go mad for the Three Kings), but the day is marked with a special cake – the Galette des rois – which has a lot of fun and complicated rituals for consumption.

READ ALSO: Galette des Rois- Everything you need to know about France’s royal tart


Michel Houellebecq to release highly anticipated political thriller 

Top-selling French author Michel Houellebecq returns to the subject of politics and power in his eighth novel, which is to appear in French bookshops on Friday. The thriller is set during a fictional presidential election campaign in 2027, with characters who have clear resemblances to current politicians, including President Macron. Titled Anéantir (“Destroy”), the book will be released on with a large initial print run of 300,000 copies, with translated versions set to appear afterwards. Once the darling of France’s liberal left, Houellebecq has steadily drifted to the right in recent years.


Anti vaccine pass march in Paris 

Opponents of the proposed vaccine pass are set to march in Paris, from Palais Royal to Place Vauban. Florian Philippot, a far-right presidential candidate, is reported to be the key organiser. 


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