In a televised address watched by a record 36.7 million people, President Emmanuel Macron confirmed last night that the current lockdown will continue for a further four weeks. “The 11th May will be the start of a new phase,” the president told the nation. “It will be progressive and the rules will be adapted according to initial results.”
From this date, creches and schools (maternelle, primaire, collège and lycée) will gradually reopen across the country, starting with the least at-risk areas, but higher education establisments will remain closed until the summer. Bars, cafés and restaurants will also not immediately be able to reopen and neither will cinemas, theatres and museums.
President Emmanuel Macron had been expected to give a televised update on the coronavirus situation this evening, Thursday 9th April. This has now been pushed back to the evening of Monday 13th April, although it has been confirmed that he will be announcing an extension to the lockdown period at that time.
The lockdown is currently due to end on April 15th; it is widely expected that this will be extended for at least a further fortnight.
One of the many challenges of lockdown has been finding fun activities to keep our minds and bodies active. The country’s bird protection organisation, the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) is encouraging people to get out into their gardens and help in a national bird survey.
Participants in the study are being asked to spend a set amount of time – ten minutes is plenty – studying the same area of outdoor space every day and making a note of the birds that they see. Only those which land in the area should be counted. You can then input your findings on their website.
The French government has received criticism for discussing how the lockdown might be lifted after increasing numbers of people have been ignoring the quarantine rules. After proposing on Friday 3rd April that the lockdown might eventually be phased out in stages – geographically and by risk group – the weekend saw larger numbers of people taking to the streets across the country in the belief that the worst could be over.
On Monday, however, France recorded its record number of deaths since the outbreak began, with 833 people succumbing to the virus on 6th April.
As promised last week, the government has unveiled its new digital solution for the compulsory confinement forms. Although initially announced as a smartpone app, the forms are actually generated as PDF documents through the Interior Ministry website – www.interieur.gouv.fr. To generate your digital certificates, visit the website via your smartphone, tablet or computer, click on the link for “attestation de déplacement” and fill in the online questionnaire. The information required is your surname, first name, date of birth, place of birth and address, as well as the reason for your journey. This remains exactly the same as on the current paper attestation.
After filling in the information online, a PDF file is generated with a QR Code containing all the data from the form, as well as the date and time of generation of the document. There is no need for a physical signature. This PDF file must be presented during any control via your smartphone or tablet, allowing officers to scan the QR code to retrieve the relevant information.
The Coronavirus lockdown was introduced as a public health measure, but the effects of quarantine have impacted all aspects of life. The government has gradually been introducing legislation to mitigate these problems, but one grey area that quickly emerged surrounded the contrôle technique (CT), the French equivalent of the MOT.
It is illegal to drive without a valid CT, and if your car fails with minor faults you usually have two months to fix any problems. Many drivers were due to renew their car’s CT during recent weeks or were already in the two-month period when the lockdown began, which has left thousands in limbo. Although contrôle technique centres are among the list of businesses allowed to remain open, many have chosen to close to protect their employees. As a result, many drivers are unsure as to whether they can legally drive their vehicles to make essential journeys.
Albert Uderzo, one of the creators of the beloved comic book character Asterix, has died in Paris aged 92. “Albert Uderzo died in his sleep at home in Neuilly of a heart attack, with no links to the coronavirus,” the French press quoted his son-in-law, Bernard de Choisy, as saying. “He had been very tired for several weeks.”
Uderzo created the famous stories about the adventures of Gaulish warriors fighting the Roman Empire in 1959 with his friend René Goscinny. As well as illustrating the series, Urderzo took over the writing following Goscinny’s death in 1977 until himself retiring from the role in 2009 and passing on the rights to the franchise. The books have sold 370 million copies worldwide, in dozens of languages, and several stories have been turned into cartoons and feature films. The series continues to this day under new ownership, with the most recent book, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, released in October last year.