Oct 29th, 2020, 10:32 PM

COVID-19 Restrictions Tighten as Lockdown Resumes in France

By Clara Appia
Macron announcing lockdown. Image Credit: France24
Macron announcing lockdown. Image Credit: France24
Mandatory curfews failed to halt the spread of the second wave of coronavirus in France, forcing the country back into confinement.

On the evening of October 28, French President Emmanuel Macron announced new confinement measures set to impact all of Metropolitan France. The new lockdown follows weeks of increasing COVID-19 restrictions — a 10 pm closure mandate for restaurants, a total closure of all establishments that did not serve food and a 9 pm curfew in select regions of France — but the number of coronavirus cases has yet to abate.

The nationwide lockdown is set to start Friday, October 30 at 12 am, and signals an increasing sense of urgency from the government. For now, the new restrictions are due to last until the 1st of December. Residents in the impacted areas will have to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or use their daily one-hour allocation of exercise. Included in the closures are restaurants and bars deemed to not be selling essential goods, although delivery services may serve to help business as they did in the spring. 

With the exception of universities, schools will be allowed to remain open, Macron further explained. People will still be allowed to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do their jobs from home, and this includes professional athletes, who will be able to continue training. Factories and farms will remain operational, and select public services will remain in place to limit the economic fallout that would result from fully closing down the country.

"Like last spring, you will be able to leave your home only for work, for a doctor's visit, to help a relative, do essential shopping or go out shortly for air," Macron stated. Anyone outside their home will need to carry a written statement justifying their presence outside. The Attestation de Deplacement is nearly identical to the form used by those located in France during the first lockdown period from early March to May 11. 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex further explained the new restrictions on Thursday, October 29 before the National Assembly and the Senate. Notably, he specified that anyone over the age of six is required to wear a mask, and that parks, gardens and beaches, as well as post offices and banks, would remain open, unlike in the spring. 

"Everybody took into account the risk of a second wave, but nobody foresaw a spike this violent or this fast," said Castex. He went on to say, "we have learned from the first wave," and the government had "no other solution" than to take drastic measures to curb the deadly rise in cases. 

France is now recording a daily average of around 40,000 new cases. However, the goal of the French government is to reduce this number to a more manageable 5,000 through confinement. They will assess the effectiveness of their implemented measures every two weeks and will make necessary adjustments to attain fewer cases. 

Only one week ago, the curfew extension came on the heels of a troubling health report, with 14.3 percent of people tested in France found to be positive for the coronavirus at the time of Macron's announcement. Residents were warned by health officials that if the spread could not be contained, stricter measures would need to be taken, as they have been. The majority of residents seemed to be following curfew guidelines, with only 4,777 fines issued in the two weeks since the implementation. 

"It is telling. It is 9 pm and there is no-one left," remarked Paris police commissioner Patrick Caron during the curfew. 

While the 9 pm to 6 am curfew was initially set to affect the 20 million inhabitants of Paris, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse, a total of 46 million people were impacted by the extension. With these significant restrictions came the re-imposition of a state of emergency due to the ongoing health crisis, as well as an economic downturn. 

"You can't have a prosperous economy when you have the virus actively circulating throughout the country," Macron said in his lockdown announcement. "For us, nothing is more important than protecting human lives."

A map of where curfew has been instated, both before and after the extension. Image Credit: French Government

Download the French government's attestation form here, or fill out a digital version here.

Summarized, accepted reasons for movement include: 

  • Traveling to and from work or school
  • Health-related reasons, doctors appointments or hospital visits
  • Urgent family-related reasons such as offering help to someone in need or with childcare
  • Traveling to help a disabled person
  • Being summoned by judicial or local authorities 
  • Trips — you will need to show your plane/train ticket for justification
  • Walking and caring for pets, but only within a reasonable distance of the home

For those venturing out during the day, the French government has revamped its contact tracing app Tous AntiCovid, but it is yet to be seen whether residents will download the app in the coming weeks as the new lockdown takes affect.