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France to ‘struggle to accept’ Brits if no confinement

France will “struggle to accept” British visitors travelling into its country if Britain does not enact mandatory confinement measures on its population quickly, the French Prime Minister has said.

Speaking on television network France 2 last night (Tuesday March 17), Edouard Philippe said: “Everyone in the EU should adopt cohesive methods and processes to fight against the epidemic.

“It goes without saying that if neighbouring states, such as the United Kingdom, go much longer without imposing ‘confinement’ measures, then we will struggle to accept British citizens who have been freely moving around their country, and then come to France.”

Read more: UK-France travel services disrupted

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Philippe was referring to visitors or permanent, long-term residents - although it is thought unlikely that France would block long-term residents with a right to remain from entering the country. This has not yet been clarified.

Britain has so far not imposed mandatory confinement on its citizens. It has not closed schools, nor officially closed restaurants, bars, pubs, theatres, or other public places.

Yet, after previous calculations suggested that 250,000 people could die without further measures, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now advised against all social contact, and “non-essential” trips outside.

Elderly people and pregnant women have also been advised to self-isolate for three months, and the government has also advised against all “non-essential” travel.


Mainland Europe measures

This is in contrast to the more stringent measures imposed in mainland Europe, notably France, Belgium, Spain, and Italy. All of these countries have now imposed mandatory confinement, with residents only permitted to leave their homes under a small number of “unavoidable” conditions.

In France, people must now stay at home at all times, and fill in (or copy out by hand) a specific form to explain why they are outside.

Theatres, restaurants, bars, concert halls and public places have all been formally closed, as have all shops and services except those specifically mentioned in this decree.

British visitors who plan to travel through France to return to the UK still need to carry one of the Covid-19 travel ‘attestation’ forms with them, the British Embassy has said.

It is recommended that as well as the details required on the form, you also add wording such as: “Je rentre au Royaume-Uni en voiture / par avion (aéroport de…) / par train” [I am returning to the UK by car / by plane (from …. airport) / by train] to the form to make your situation clear.

Read more: Returning UK visitors also need new French form

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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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