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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

What changes in France in February 2022?

France begins to lift its Covid restrictions in February and there are also school holidays, financial changes and a festival of delicious crêpes, to name just a few events in a packed month.

What changes in France in February 2022?
February means France's Pancake Day. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

Covid restrictions easing – February sees a two-step process of easing some of the current Covid restrictions. February 2nd and February 16th are the key dates to lift rules including a limit on gatherings, outdoor mask rules and compulsory work-from-home. Full details HERE

Booster shot time limit – if you are over 18, it is now necessary to have a booster shot in order to keep your ‘fully vaccinated ‘ status and maintain an active vaccine pass. Previously you were given seven months between having the second dose and getting the booster in order to keep the pass valid, but on February 15th the gap falls to four months. You are eligible for a booster shot three months after getting the second dose. Full details on the time limits HERE.

End of the first-vaccine exemption – when the vaccine pass was introduced on January 24th a little sweetener was added to induce the previously unvaccinated to get their first dose. Anyone getting their first dose before February 15th can use a combination of their first vaccine certificate and a negative Covid test in order to access vaccine pass venues until they are able to get the second dose. This exemption ends on February 15th and from then on people will have to wait until seven days after their second vaccine dose in order to use the vaccine pass.

Electricity prices rise – prices for electricity tariffs rise by 4 percent on February 1st. It could have been a lot worse, though, as the energy regulator estimated that it would have been a 44 percent rise had it not been for the government’s decision to cap prices rises in an attempt to ease the cost of living crisis.

Tobacco price rises – some cigarette brands are increasing their prices from February 1st – Fortuna Cool and JPS Cool will rise from €9.70 to €9.80, while Gauloises Blondes Bleu and News Rouge will reach the €10 mark, compared to €9.90.

Sales end – the winter sales in most of France end on Tuesday, February 8th, although in some border areas they end on January 30th.

School holidays – schools have a two-week holiday in February, but the exact date depends on which zone you are in. Zone A holidays run from Saturday, February 12th to Monday, February 28th, Zone B from February 5th to 21st and Zone C February 19th to March 7th. It has also been announced that some Covid restrictions might be relaxed in schools once they restart after the February holidays, but the details are yet to be announced.

Motorway tolls rise – if you use the French autoroutes you will be aware of the tolls charged at each péage. But from February 1st these tolls increase. The exact price rise varies by area, but the average rise across the country is two percent.

La Chandeleur –  February 2nd marks La Chandeleur aka the French pancake day. As well as eating lots of delicious crêpes, the French also have a complicated and fun set of superstitions around this day which apparently bring good luck for the year ahead.

READ ALSO La Chandeleur: The day the French go crazy for crêpes

Parrainage season begins – the French presidential election moves up a gear in February as the parrainage season officially opens. This is the system whereby wannabe candidates must secure nominations from at least 500 elected officials in order to be included on the ballot paper. Parrainage collecting officially opens on January 30th and presidential hopefuls have until March 4th to secure the 500 signatures. In reality, most candidates have been working on securing the required promises for weeks already.

READ ALSO Why French village mayors could sink Zemmour’s presidential bid

End of Covid home-tests in supermarkets – Supermarkets will no longer be able to sell Covid home-test kits (autotests) after February 15th. Normally anything even vaguely medical-related can only be sold in pharmacies (even cough sweets) but the soaring demand for Covid home tests lead the government to grant a special exemption for supermarkets to sell them. This originally expired on January 31st, but was then extended until February 15th.

Nice Carnival – The Nice carnival is ranked among the top three in the world alongside Rio and Venice and has been going on since the 13th century. The opening ceremony is scheduled for February 11th although a jam-packed calendar of activities is scheduled until February 27th. The theme of this year’s event is “King of the Animals”. You can find more information HERE. Naturally, changes may be made depending on the latest Covid situation.

Savings – For anyone with a Livret A savings account, there is good news. The interest rate will rise on February 1st from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.

Baby boxes – the government will begin distributing ‘baby boxes’ to the parents of newborns containing essential items to help take care of the baby. The scheme will begin in deprived areas and isolated rural areas.

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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

On the agenda: What’s happening in France this week

A new Prime Minister, Covid rules relaxed, Cannes kicks off, and election candidates must confirm their plan to run for office - here’s what’s happening in France this week

On the agenda: What’s happening in France this week

Monday

Public transport mask mandates – The requirement to wear a facemask on public transport in France was dropped on Monday, as Covid-19 cases fall across the country. But it remains compulsory to wear one in nursing homes, hospitals and other medical centres. France’s decision to drop mask mandates on public transport coincides with a Europe-wide relaxation of rules for flights. Local rules will still apply, and airlines can still require passengers to wear facemasks.

PM to quit – Prime Minister Jean Castex has already handed in his ‘very simple, very classic’ resignation letter to re-elected President Emmanuel Macron and officially stand down, allowing President Emmanuel Macron – three weeks after his re-election – to begin his second term with a fresh cabinet.

It has been rumoured that Macron will name a female PM, with Audrey Azoulay – who has been Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2017 – one of those namechecked in dispatches. If he does choose a woman, she will become France’s second female PM after Edith Cresson, who held the post between May 1991 and April 1992.

Burkini rules – Grenoble, in southeastern France, is set to reignite one of France’s recurring summer debates when it votes to authorise the “burkini” in state-run swimming pools.

The all-in-one swimsuit, used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while bathing, has become almost as topical as ice cream and sun hats during the holiday season in recent years. Seen as a symbol of creeping Islamism by its critics and an affront to France’s secular traditions, many right-wingers and some feminists would like to ban it outright. It is prohibited in most state-run pools – for hygiene rather than religious reasons reasons — the same strict swimwear rules mean men are required to squeeze into tight-fitting trunks.

But the city council, dominated by the EELV green party, is set to scrap its bathing dress code on Monday, effectively authorising long body coverings, beach shorts and topless bathing.

Tuesday

Phew, what a scorcher – It was warm last week. It’s set to get even hotter this week, as a ‘heat dome’ settles over France after weekend storms in the north and west. The southwest of the country, in particular, will be hot from Tuesday May 17th, with temperatures set to top 30C across most of the country, and 35C in the southwest. Combined with high humidity, it’s set to feel closer to 40C in parts during the day, forecasters have warned, while night-time temperatures are expected to hover around 20C. The stickiest conditions are expected between Tuesday and Thursday, with the dome set to break up on Friday.

Cannes do – The 75th Cannes Festival opens in the glamorous town on the south coast of France with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie movie “Z”. 

Rock n roll – The smashed guitar that finally broke up Oasis will be one of a number of big-ticket items going under the hammer at an auction at Hôtel Drouot in Paris. Noel Gallagher’s guitar is expected to fetch between €300,000 and €500,000.

Friday

Candidates assemble – It’s the last day for candidates for next month’s legislative elections in France to officially confirm they will run for election.

Saturday

Sport – Defending champions Barcelona take on seven-time winners Lyon in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Turin. The French side are the most successful team in the competition.

Sunday

May 22nd marks the start of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. It will run until the men’s final on June 5th.

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