The French government clarified on Wednesday the terms of the curfew announced the day before by President Emmanuel Macron, in order to cope with a second wave of the new coronavirus epidemic.
The details of the implementation of this curfew of at least four weeks, decreed from next Saturday in Ile de France and eight other metropolitan areas, were presented at a press conference by the head of government, Jean Castex, and the ministers of the Interior, Economy and Labor.
In the areas concerned by this new measure implemented in the wake of a worrying upsurge of Covid-19 contaminations, it will now be forbidden to go out between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., with exceptions for emergencies, night workers and travelers, explained the Prime Minister.
For regions that will not be affected by this measure, party halls will be closed and private parties prohibited, Castex explained, adding that restaurants will have to apply the rule of six guests per table and keep a register of customers.
In all “places where people circulate standing” such as shopping malls or supermarkets, a distance of “four square meters” per person must be respected and “a gauge will be set by the prefect,” he noted.
For his part, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced that 12,000 police officers and gendarmes will be mobilized to enforce the curfew, adding that it will be possible to download the certificate of exemption from the Ministry of the Interior website.
The violation of the curfew will be punishable by a fine of 135 euros, which increases to 1,500 euros in case of recurrence, he recalled, noting that after three repeat offences, a sentence of 6 months in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros may be given.
On the economic side, the Minister of Economy, Finance and Recovery, Bruno Le Maire announced the strengthening and expansion of the Solidarity Fund set up for the benefit of VSEs, noting that all companies with less than 50 employees who are located in curfew zones and who have lost 50% of their business compared to 2019 will be able to benefit from aid of up to 500 euros, for the duration of the curfew.
For the hotel, café, restaurant, culture, events and sports sectors, they will receive up to 10,000 euros per month, as long as they suffer a loss of business not 70% but 50%, he said.
All administratively closed companies will benefit from a total exemption from their employer’s social contributions until the end of the curfew, he explained, adding that the state-guaranteed loans, which were available until December 31 of this year, will now be accessible until June 30, 2021.
The Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, returned to the subject of telework arrangements, noting that their implementation must respect a balance between several objectives: avoiding the spread of the virus, maintaining the efficiency of work organizations and, finally, preventing the risks associated with employee isolation.
“This balance must be built in the social dialogue within the company,” she stressed.
For his part, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, considered that the measures put in place are necessary, temporary and effective.
The minister also dwelt on the policy of tests in France as well as the epidemiological situation of the epidemic in the country, noting that France is “winning the battle of time” in terms of access to tests, pointing out that his department has ordered, without waiting for scientific validation, 5 million of these antigenic tests that have already been deployed for several days in all French regions.
The French government had announced on Wednesday the restoration of the state of health emergency in the country from October 17.