Coronavirus in France: An update for expats

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Published 2020-03-18 06:02

Since the 14th of March, France is under lockdown. That's everything you need to know about the situation in the country right now.

The latest figures from the WHO list 164,000 confirmed cases and 6,470 deaths around the world. 

Here, we present the coronavirus situation in France as it has evolved since the first cast was confirmed in January.

A brief timeline of Coronavirus in France

It was confirmed that the coronavirus had reached France on 24th January, with the first case in Bordeaux. The first death from COVID-19 was in Paris, on 14th February. 

On March 11th coronavirus was declared to be a pandemic. The following day the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, announced in a live broadcast that schools and universities would close from Monday 16th March. The next day, public gatherings of more than 100 were banned by the prime minister Édouard Philippe. 

On March 14th, Mr. Philippe ordered the closure of all non-essential public spaces including cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants. By this time, all but two departments in France had reported at least one case of coronavirus. 

On Monday 16th March, President Macron announced a nationwide lockdown for 15 days, beginning on Tuesday 17th March at midday. For more on this lockdown and what it involves, see below.

What are the latest Co-Vid19 statistics in France?

As of 16th March, the number of confirmed infected people in France is 6,633, with at least 148 deaths. 

The two most affected areas in France are the Grand Est region (Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine), and the île de France (the Paris region). Each of these regions currently has over 1,500 confirmed cases. 

On Monday 16th March, France’s top health official, Jérôme Salomon, expressed his concern over the spread of coronavirus, stating that the situation was “deteriorating very fast.” The number of cases doubles every three days,” he explained to public radio channel France Inter, “We must do everything to slow down the outbreak.”

What’s happening with travel?

While efforts had been made to keep free movement functioning through the EU member states, a number of countries began to close their borders in Europe.

Germany announced it would be closing its borders from Tuesday 17th March - land borders between France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria are now closed. Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark had already imposed restrictions or closed their borders.

President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would be introducing border closures for 30 days from midday on Tuesday 17th March. In his televised address the night prior, he had stated that “all trips between non-European countries and the EU and the Schengen zone will be suspended for 30 days.” French residents on holiday will be able to return home, and those living abroad will need to contact their local embassy to be repatriated. 

For advice, check the website of your airline or your local embassy for guidance.

What are the current restrictions and closures? 

As of midday on Tuesday 17th March, France will be on lockdown for 15 days. Public parks and gardens will be closed, and trips outside are authorised only for specific purposes. A list of the permissible reasons for going outside are detailed within the new measures and include buying groceries, helping elderly relatives, walking pets and going to work where necessary, however, an accompanying form should be provided. You can find the form and the accompanying categories of authorised trips here

What measures have the government announced to help people?

In his televised speech on Monday March 16th, President Macron announced major support for businesses including tax and bill breaks, to enable everyone to support themselves through the lockdown. 

The second round of municipal elections will be suspended and any new reforms going through parliament will be halted from Wednesday, he said.