France at the end of Covid-19 curfew

Revelators in major French cities were set for one last night Friday before a curfew issued to curb the tide of the second wave of Covid-19 takes effect Saturday. Jowharis looking at the new rules, why the country has chosen to go the curfew route now, and whether the famous, cozy Frenchmen are likely to accept the new anti-coronavirus measures.

France’s curfew: Where, when, for whom?

From Saturday night, at 21 local time and until 06, “everyone should be in their homes”, as Prime Minister Jean Castex put it, in the greater Paris or Ile-de-France region and eight other metropolitan areas across the country: Aix-Marseille, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Toulouse, Lille, Montpellier, Rouen and Grenoble. The curfew applies to almost 20 million people – just under a third of the entire French population.

As during the country’s two-month lock-in of coronavirus from mid-March to May, those seeking a curfew must carry an attestation (permit) that provides a valid reason for the excursion. The document, whether on paper or electronically, is valid for one hour for everyone except those who go to work.

France’s Covid-19 curfew (“couvre-feu”) card on October 15, 2020. © French government Twitter account (@gouvernementFR)

Twelve thousand additional law enforcement officials will be deployed to enforce the curfew, with sanctions ranging from a fine of € 135 for first-time offenders to up to six months in prison and a fine of € 3,750 for repeat offenders.

The curfew is expected to last at least four weeks, though the government is expected to ask parliament to vote to extend the restrictions further. President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday suggested that the curfew could be in place by December 1st.

What exceptions are there?

The rules allow for exceptions to visit a hospital, a pharmacy, a police station, to provide assistance to a close employee in distress, walking the dog or for professional reasons. Businesses are expected to close, but there are permits for businesses such as hotels and delivery restaurants.

Travelers are allowed to take out on train or air travel as long as they can provide their ticket the time of travel as proof. Macron said on Wednesday that France had chosen not to restrict movement between French regions, even though French school holidays begin nationwide on Saturday.

Professional sports can continue under the curfew with exemptions for professional athletes, even if spectators do not get access to matches that take place after 1 p.m. 21 in the cities under curfew.

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu on Friday closed talk of exceptions for amateur sports. “We must be responsible in this situation. We must strongly support medical staff and the people who become ill and who have already become ill with coronavirus and who are in hospital,” Maracineanu told France Info on Friday. “Sports have been treated very well since the beginning of this crisis. We managed to have exceptions for certain groups, including children, who can continue to go to clubs,” she noted.

There has meanwhile been disagreement, even within the government over exceptions that some wanted for cultural pursuits. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Thursday that she would lobby the government for a curfew for exceptions for live performances in the French capital, where many shows end after 1 p.m. 21. The National Cinemas Federation sounded the alarm over “extremely serious” consequences for movie theaters already struggling this year if they were to bring the house’s lights up at 6 p.m. 21.

Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot, for her part, seemed receptive to wiggling space. “What they want,” Bachelot said of the cultural sector on Thursday, “would instead consider that 9 pm is not the time to be home, but for those who have a ticket to a play or to a movie, the hour one leaves the theater. It seems plausible to me, “Bachelot said, promising the government would look into the request.

But Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire decided on a special treatment of culture. “What gives a rule strength is its clarity and simplicity. If you start piling on exceptions … we will not get through this,” Le Maire told BFM TV on Friday. “In politics, you have to have a single priority. I am against any exception, except health professionals, in emergencies … under extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

PM Castex later settled the case. There are no exceptions to culture. “For rules to be understood, for rules to be accepted, they must be the same for everyone,” the prime minister told reporters at noon on Friday.

Why a curfew and why now?

Coronavirus cases have increased exponentially in France. On Thursday, the country recorded a record 30,621 new cases in 24 hours, passing 30,000 daily case marks for the first time after first hitting 20,000 just six days before, on October 9th. The positive test percentage continues to rise and hits 12.6 percent nationwide on Thursday. For comparison, neighboring Germany crossed the 7,000 daily case mark for the first time, it reported on Friday, while the United States reported 60,000 cases on Wednesday, the highest number since August 14.

In its latest weekly assessment, the public health agency Santé Publique France noted that new cases rose 53 per cent last week during the week before. “The strongest increases were observed among people over 45 years of age (age 45-64: +66.3 percent; 65-74 years: +64.3 percent; 75 years and over: +63.6 percent),” the agency outlined Thursday. . It said cases among people aged 65 to 74 have tripled in the last six weeks and almost quadrupled among people over 75 years. “This increase in the number of cases among the elderly is very worrying as these people are most at risk for Covid-19 complications,” the agency said.

Donald Trump says “we’re rounding a corner”.

WHO says increase in virus cases is a “major concern”

Here are the figures for 1 week NEW cases 9 – 15 October India: 471,400 + USA: 381,600 + France: 179,300 + @ AFP

– AFPgraphics (@AFPgraphics) October 16, 2020

Macron pointed to the “relevance” of a curfew previously imposed in the overseas department of French Guiana to stem the coronavirus epidemic that raged there after France as a whole came out of lockdown in May.

“The numbers are indisputable: the curfew had massive effects on the epidemic,” Clara De Bort, head of the regional health agency (ARS) in French Guiana, told France Inter radio on Thursday.

The curfew in French Guiana, a South American neighbor to coronavirus hotspot Brazil, underwent several adjustments. It began in May as a curfew from kl. 23:00 to Meanwhile, restaurants and bars were only allowed to serve customers outdoors, and schools, cinemas and places of worship remained closed – restrictions not currently in force on the French mainland. At the end of June, the curfew in French Guiana was in effect for 12 hours a day from 1 p.m. 17 to kl. 5 on weekdays and from kl. 13 and onwards on Saturdays. On June 25, the territory closed its restaurants completely and closed its borders. It began easing the curfew in August, but restrictions remain in place today with a curfew from midnight to 6 p.m.

Back in Paris on Friday, Le Maire laid the economic case for imposing curfews in major cities on the French mainland from Saturday rather than returning to a complete lockdown.

The economy minister said the measures announced Thursday to support the economy under the curfew totaled “1 billion euros for the duration of the curfew”, while the same nine urban areas are subject to full lock-in instead of costing 5 billion euros. A nationwide lockdown will meanwhile cost between € 15 and € 20 billion a month, Le Maire told BFM TV.

Will the French accept a curfew?

In a poll conducted immediately after Macron’s exit announcement Wednesday, polling firm Harris Interactive found that 70 percent of respondents approved of the measure and 94 percent were willing to respect the curfew, though fewer (78 percent) said they would respect it strictly. and without exceptions. Forty-eight percent said the new measures Macron announced Wednesday would be enough to stem the second wave of Covid-19 in France, but a majority (52 percent) thought they would not.

In fact, some of the critics who slammed the new rules suggested that they failed in omission. Politicians from both the left and the right questioned the urge to lock the country in the evening, claiming that people had apparently contracted coronavirus from known interactions during the day, at school or at work, not subject to new rules. No new measures were announced, for example in relation to schools where children under 11 are not required to wear face masks in France, despite stricter guidelines elsewhere. Working from home whenever possible, meanwhile, is not mandatory, despite regular social media appeals to stricter guidance attached with photos of crowded Paris metros during rush hour.

“Sixty percent of infections occur in the workplace or at school or at university between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. curfew.

The criticism received a quick response from Health Minister Olivier Véran, who said that Mélenchon confused diagnoses with clusters (groups of infections) and noted that clusters represent only a small minority of the total infections. In fact, as Le Monde reported, nine out of 10 coronavirus infections in France have not been traced back to any cluster, and epidemiologists warn against extrapolation from cluster data for where they were contracted. In other words, confirmed clusters are only the tip of the iceberg, and epidemiologically it is not clear what the rest of the iceberg looks like.

60% of clusters, which means 10% of pollution identifications. Vous confondez clusters and diagnostics. Dommage of controversy at the time where we want to preserve education, save jobs, and fight effectively against this epidemic in the interest of the French.

– Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) October 14, 2020

“It is not idiotic to think that people pollute more in bars and restaurants than in companies where they wear masks all the time,” Catherine Hill, an epidemiologist at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, south of Paris, told AFP on Thursday. . But, she said, “until we organize a mass screening by PCR or antigen test to quickly find infectious people and isolate them, we remain in the dark”.

In the meantime, it will have to wait to decipher the effect that the exit bans from kl. 21:00 to 06:00 have at Covid-19 in France. The government has warned that their impact on the spread of the virus will not be clear for two to three weeks.

(With AFP and REUTERS)

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