Christmas Eve in France: No curfew but safety advice applies

The usual curfew is lifting tonight as France celebrates Christmas on December 24, but people are still recommended to take stringent safety precautions

24 December 2020
Wine is poured at a Christmas dinner table. Christmas Eve in France: No curfew but safety advice appliesFrance has issued some safety recommendations on Covid and drink driving to help everyone have a safer Christmas this year
By Hannah Thompson

There will be no curfew in France tonight and you will not need an attestation form for one night only, as France celebrates Christmas - but other health and safety recommendations still apply. We explain.

Since the end of the second lockdown on December 15, France has been under curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 every night, with an attestation form required to leave the house for one of the stated acceptable reasons.

Read more: The form you need for be out between 20:00-06:00

But tonight, on Christmas Eve (Thursday December 24), this will not apply.

There is no exception for Christmas Day. The curfew and attestation rules will go back to normal from 20:00 on Friday December 25.

This is because traditionally, French people celebrate Christmas on December 24, rather than 25, and gather together for a meal with family, as well as attend mass.

On Christmas Eve this year (today), people in France are permitted to visit their family to celebrate Christmas.

You are also permitted to attend a Christmas mass, as long as physical distancing and health rules are followed. Churchgoers must space out across the church to avoid getting too close.

Many parishes have chosen to increase their services on Thursday and Friday to enable more people to attend while still maintaining physical distancing.

Health body Santé publique France has said that in the past week, Covid-19 has had “a worrying epidemiological surge”, with a rise in new cases and a slight rise in hospital admissions.

It said this change was “worrying” in the run up to the festive season.

Christmas safety

Whether you are celebrating today French-style, or staying with the British tradition of a meal on December 25 tomorrow, authorities have recommended the following for a safer Christmas:

  • No more than six adults around one table
  • Wear masks indoors where possible, except when eating, and replace it at the end of the meal
  • Apply physical distancing as much as possible, including 1-1.5 metres between seats
  • Keep families and households together as much as possible
  • Air out rooms by opening windows for 10 minutes every hour
  • Do not hug or kiss, especially when exchanging gifts, or with vulnerable or elderly people
  • Wash hands and use hand sanitiser regularly
  • Avoid sharing dishes such as crisps, pistachios or nuts, and instead have individual portions
  • Avoid buffet-style serving or communal platters passed between people, and instead have one person serve everyone individually
  • Do not pass plates or serving dishes around between people
  • Have one person who is in charge of opening bottles and serving drinks throughout the night
  • Have one person who is in charge of serving and/or cutting the Christmas pudding or bûche de Noël

It is also recommended that everyone should download the free #TousAntiCovid app, to enable monitoring of the virus spread.

If anyone in your party is showing any symptoms, or has done in the past few days, they are recommended to take a Covid test, either in a lab or pharmacy.

If the result is positive, they and any of their contacts must self-isolate. If the result is negative, health precautions are still advised, as they may be in an incubation period or have had a false negative.

Read more: Isolation and Covid tests advised for festive season

Read more: Masks at Christmas to avoid new Covid wave, says WHO

Driving safety

As the curfew is lifted tonight, driving associations have also warned people against drink driving.

In a statement, road safety associations Prévention Routière and Assurance Prévention said: “Alcohol remains one of the main causes of death on the roads. In 32% of fatal accidents, the driver had been drinking.”

This figure rises to 50% at night. And in 2019, 1,052 people died in France in a road accident caused by a drunk driver.

A poll commissioned by the two associations found that 30% of people in France are concerned by the risk of drink driving this Christmas, whether it affects them personally, or a member of their family or friends.

The associations have recommended some safety steps to take this evening:

  • Have a designated driver who will not drink at all, and will drive the other guests
  • If you are planning to drink alcohol, use taxis or VTC companies such as Uber
  • Use a breathalyser before you get into your vehicle and do not drive if you are over the limit
  • In case of any doubt, do not drive so as to avoid putting yourself, your passengers, and other road users at risk. Plan to stay over at your host’s home instead, and drive home the next day.

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