Despite the return of a rise in recorded daily numbers of Covid-19 infections, the French government has announced the suspension as of March 14th of most of the restrictions introduced to contain the epidemic, including mask-wearing in many public places or the requirement of a valid vaccine pass to access restaurants and leisure venues.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex and health minister Olivier Véran on Thursday presented the planned gradual lifting of current public restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19, with mass gatherings allowed from early February, when staff home-working where practical will no longer be required, and the reopening of night clubs after the middle of the month.
Introduced in France this summer, a “health pass” attesting that the holder is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or has recently tested negative to the coronavirus, is required for gaining access to a wide range of public venues. This month, as the government moves to extend its power to impose the pass through to next summer, Mediapart took to the road to gather reactions to the restrictions in the lesser populated rural areas of central and south-west France, where local concerns contrast with those in crowded urban zones. Here, Nicolas Cheviron reports from the village of Corn, whose mayor, Dominique Legresy, a fervent opponent of the pass, confides how he tries “to allow things to happen” without breaking the law.
In a televised address to the nation on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that all staff workers in medical facilities must be vaccinated by September or face losing pay, while 'health passes' proving double-jab vaccination will be needed from early August to enter shopping centres and other venues.
The fast-rising number of coronavirus infections recorded in the Riviera city, three times the average of that recorded across France, has prompted the authorities to plan for a localised weekend lockdown and stricter curfew measures.
A 12-hour curfew beginning at 6pm that was recently introduced in regions of eastern France where the return of the coronavirus epidemic took a significant hold has now been extended to all of France, beginning on Saturday and for a renewable two weeks, while visitors to the country from outside the EU face new restrictions including a seven-day isolation period even if they recently tested negative for the virus.
Three weeks after lifting the total lockdown intoduced in March to contain the Covid-19 virus epidemic, France will as of Tuesday further reduce limits placed on public movement, including a return to unlimited travel around the country, although the partial easing will be more limited in areas where the slowing epidemic is realtively high, including the Paris region.
Amazon’s six French warehouses, which employ around 10,000 workers on permanent and interim contracts, have been shut since April 16th after court rulings said the company could only continue to operate if it limits deliveries to a list of essential goods only and carry out an assessment of the health risks to its employees in consultation with French trades unions.
Following six months of protests, the French government this week appeared ready to accept at least a partial climb-down over its contentious move to restrict the granting of work permits to foreign, non-EU students, many of whom are graduates who have been offered employment after their studies in the country. The restrictions, which the government said were prompted by "one of the most severe economic crises in history" and which critics denounced as pandering to the electorate of the far-right, caused an outcry from French academics and the business world. Carine Fouteau reports.