Interior minister Christophe Castaner made the announcements yesterday night (Monday March 16), during a speech on the new measures in France, which come into force today (Tuesday March 17) at 12h.
He said: “The order is clear: ‘Stay at home’...Our objective is not to punish, but to call the responsibility of everyone...to show collective citizenship to overcome the crisis.”
He warned: “We do not want to punish, but if we need to, we will.”
The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to spread in France.
The latest figures, released March 16, show that 148 people have now died from the virus and 6,600 have been infected since January 24.
How long will the confinement last?
The order will apply for at least two weeks, and until further notice.
What if I need to leave the house?
Anyone leaving the house will be required to fill in a form (pictured below) - available online here and shortly on all government sites - to explain why they are outside and where they are going.
Workers may also present workplace ID.
What about my workplace / employer / work that cannot be done at home?
The government has published a second form ("Justificatif de Déplacement Professionnel" or "Professional Travel Proof") on the same website.
This is to be filled in and signed by employers, vouching for the employee, whose work cannot be done at home.
How will the forms be checked?
There will be fixed checkpoints and moving checkpoints on major roads, secondary roads and pedestrian routes across the entire country, Mr Castaner said, and these will be manned by 100,000 police and gendarmes.
Anyone found without a proper declaration risks an immediate fine of €38, rising to €135 quickly.
What if I can’t download or print the form?
You can write the same information by hand on a “blank sheet of paper”, Mr Castaner said. The paper must include your name, date of birth, address, and specific reason for your trip, in French.
It must then be signed and dated.
You can also fill the form in on-screen (it is fillable on computers or laptops, but not most phones), and take a good quality photo of it, instead of printing it.
What are the exceptions?
Under the new rules, everyone must stay at home except for unavoidable reasons, such as buying food, caring for dependants, going to an emergency doctor’s appointment, or completing work that cannot be done remotely.
People will also be allowed to take exercise outside near their home, or walk their dog - but not as a group, or within one metre of others. Mr Castaner also offered the example of separated parents being allowed to pick up and drop off children between homes.
What is not allowed?
Mr Castaner said that activities such as playing football would not be allowed, nor would attending a gym or leisure centre; visiting tourist attractions; meeting friends for dinner; lunch with family; or having a picnic in a park.
He said: “These are all sacrifices, but I think we can all understand them. When we are talking about saving lives, including yours and that of your loved ones.”
The measures are similar to those introduced in recent days in Spain and Italy, which have also imposed confinement on citizens, and have used police checks and controls to enforce the rules.
Mr Castaner said: “We are fighting a battle. And we will have it respected. Yet, the activity of our country must not stop completely. Exceptions will be tolerated.”
What about the second round of municipal voting?
Mr Castaner said that although the first round of voting had been advised to go ahead, and had gone well, the second round of voting - in the communes that require it - would be postponed.
The exact dates will be published later, but the vote is expected to take place in mid-June.
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The French government has issued health advice to help stop the virus from spreading.
This advice includes:
- Stay at home, except in exceptional circumstances.
- Keep a 1 metre distance between yourself and others when you are out.
- Wash your hands with soap or hydro-alcoholic sanitiser gel frequently.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.
- Use single use tissues and dispose immediately after use.
- Do not shake hands, or greet people with kisses on the cheek.
- If you are sick, everyone in the household must stay at home, and avoid any trips outdoors, and wear a mask in the company of others.
If you believe you are sick, do not go to the hospital or visit your local doctor as you may infect others. Instead call your local doctor and take paracetamol for the fever. Do not take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or cortisone to treat the possible symptoms of Covid-19 as these could actually worsen the infection.
If you have returned from a high risk area, including China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao); Singapore, South Korea, Iran or the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, and present symptoms of respiratory infection such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing within 14 days of your return, call your local GP. Do not go to your local hospital or doctor, or call the Samu 15 number except in a genuine, life-threatening emergency.
A free hotline service can answer your questions about the coronavirus Covid-19 non-stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0800 130 000. It cannot give medical advice.
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