Following President Emmanuel Macron’s address to the nation on Wednesday 28th October, the country is once again under a national lockdown “until at least 1st December”. Although the number of positive Covid-19 cases had been rising rapidly through the month of October, it had been thought that the government would bring in regional lockdowns for the worst-hit areas and possibly introduce tighter curfews. Rumours of a full national lockdown began to circulate the day before the president’s announcement, but réconfinement still took many by surprise.
The new rules are much the same as for the first national lockdown in March of this year, with all “non-essential” businesses closed. You are not permitted to leave your house unless you have a good reason and have a completed form stating the purpose of your journey. The standard (and sadly familiar) attestation de déplacement dérogatoire is again available both via a webpage on your smartphone and as an English download, but has a few extra reasons for leaving your home this time round.
Click on the links below to download the relevant form:
Attestation de déplacement obligatoire (EN) – click here Attestation de déplacement obligatoire (FR) – click here Justificatif de déplacement professionnel (FR) – click here Justificatif de déplacement scolaire (FR) – click here
One crucial difference of this lockdown is that schools are staying open and a third form has been created to this effect, a justificatif de déplacement scolaire. This form only needs to be filled in once and can be used for any subsequent journey to pick up or drop off your child at school. As previously, there is also a justificatif de déplacement professionnel for anyone leaving their house for a valid professional or business reason.
Originally planned for July, the launch of the portal allowing British residents to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement Residency Permit was pushed back to 1st October and then faced further delays before finally going live on Monday 19th October.
Britain left the EU earlier this year, but under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, nothing has yet changed for British expats in France. However, the Brexit transition period runs out on 31st December and anyone residing in France before this date and planning to stay as a French resident must apply for a residency permit via the site.
The online portal is for all Britons who become resident in France by the end of 2020 and their family members.
Those that make the move after this date will be subject to a different regime – one expected to be similar to that already in place for other Third Country Nationals such as Americans and Australians – and will have to apply for a residency permit in person at their local prefecture.
The website is available in both English and French and can be accessed via the this link.
On Sunday 10th May, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave an update on his government’s plans to “reopen” society later this week. During his speech he said he was “serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”
The policy was initially short on detail, and more information should emerge over the coming days, but it has already been confirmed that passengers arriving from France will be exempt from any future quarantine period.
President Macron announced last week that passengers from the UK would not face a quarantine period when arriving in France and following Johnson’s speech, No 10 confirmed a reciprocal deal with the government in Paris meant restrictions would not also apply to passengers arriving in the UK from France.
Yesterday evening, the Elysée clarified that “Any person, whatever their nationality, arriving from other EU countries, the Schengen zone or the UK” would not be required to self-isolate for two weeks on arrival. On Saturday, the health minister, Olivier Véran, had stated that quarantine measures would apply “to people entering the national territory or arriving in an overseas territory” or Corsica. The statement will be a relief for many expats hoping to meet up with loved ones in the coming months, once the restrictions on travel are gradually lifted.
The government did confirm, however, that those arriving in France from a foreign country and testing positive for coronavirus can still be placed in quarantine for up to 30 days.
The news came as France, Italy and Spain all recorded their lowest death rates in several weeks. The latest figures showed 135 deaths in France, the lowest figure since late March and encouraging news as the nation prepares for the end of lockdown from 11th May.
With the end of lockdown in sight for many, the government has unveiled what a post-confinement France will look like and what you will soon be able to do again.
Following confirmation in a televised address by Prime Minister Eduoard Philippe, the lockdown will finally end for many from Monday 11th May, although life will not be the same as before. While there will no longer be a need to carry a form when you leave the house, certain travel restrictions will remain in place and not all of the country will end confinement in the same way.
The new de-confinement rules unveiled represent phase one of a longer-term plan and will run from 11th May to 2nd June. Departments will be classified as either green or red when confinement finally ends, with stricter measures in place for those in red. For the time being, the majority of SW France has been given green status; the status for each department is being reviewed daily until 7th May, the date on which a definitive decision will be taken. In red departments “there will be the possibility of closing schools if necessary, or of closing a certain number of shops and outdoor places,” Health Minister Olivier Véran explained when revealing the first indicative maps on 30th April.
The 1st of May brings with it the French tradition of the giving and receiving of small bouquets of muguets, or lily of the valley. Although the flower has become associated with Labour Day, which is the official status of the May 1st public holiday in France and across much of the world, it has its roots in the Renaissance court of Charles IX, nearly 500 years ago.
Flowering as it does in the month of May and symbolising for many the regeneration of spring and the promise of a prosperous season ahead, it was given by Charles IX to those around him on the 1st May 1561 to bring them good luck.
The French Grand Prix has become the 10th race of the Formula 1 season to be cancelled due the ongoing health crisis. The cancellation of the race, which was due to take place on 28th June, had been seen as inevitable following the government’s announcement of a ban on all mass gatherings until mid-July.
The statement calling off the race said that organisers “take note of the impossibility to maintain the Formula 1 Grand Prix de France on 28 June”, and French Grand Prix managing director Eric Boullier said in a statement that eyes “were turning towards the summer of 2021”.
The French government has put together unprecedented financial rescue packages for two of the country’s largest employers. Announcing the loans, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said they would help carmaker Renault and flag-carrier Air France through the crisis caused by the coronavirus, but that they would come with strings attached, most notably regarding improvements in green credentials.
Air France has been given a €7 billion loan – €4 billion in bank loans guaranteed by the State and a further €3 billion loan direct from the State. “We need to save our national company and the 350,000 direct and indirect employees affected,” Le Maire said, while denying that the the loans were a first step to nationalisation. “We are behind Air France, behind the employees of Air France to guarantee our independence and save jobs.”
To thank the country’s front-line workers, the Paris Mint has designed a new collectable coin, with the majority of profits being donated to charity. The Merci Medal is available via the website of the Monnaie de Paris and costs €8, of which €6 will be donated to the Fondation de France initiative “Tous unis contre le virus”, which aims to finance research projects as well as to support local social professionals and charities working with the most vulnerable.
The medals are already being struck and will be sent out from mid-June, although the Monnaie de Paris has already promised that the first 1,000 will be donated for free to the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris and the CHU de Bordeaux, two institutions at the forefront of the coronavirus fight.
Philippe Wahl, president of the country’s postal system, has announced that La Poste will be increasing the number of weekly deliveries to four. When the lockdown was initially announced, La Poste had restricted deliveries to just three days each week: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
From the week beginning 20th April, post will now also be delivered on Tuesdays. Note that for the subsequent two weeks, deliveries will be made Monday to Thursday, since 1st and 8th May are bank holidays.
The postal system came under pressure in the early days of the lockdown as it fought to strike a balance between protecting its employees and maintaining an important public service. La Poste faced particular criticism for reducing its deliveries to just three days a week from the country’s press, who were unable to deliver daily newspapers.
“We are a nationwide network,” explained Eric Rigaud, the head of a La Poste logistics centre in Limoges, in response to complaints about the time it has taken to adapt to the new health standards required. “As a group, we distribute everywhere, every day and across the whole country. We can not change our organisation from one day to the next as easily as a company with just a few employees.”