100,000 policemen assigned to monitor lockdown as coronavirus spreads

French gendarmes near the A1 motorway in northern France.
French gendarmes near the A1 motorway in northern France. © PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP

France will deploy 100,000 policemen and gendarmes across the country to ensure that the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 is respected. Travel documents are needed to justify drastically limited movements.


The lockdown in France is to be enforced until 1 April. President Macron, the French health workers as well as Christophe Castaner, the Interior minister all pleaded with people to “Stay at home”

"We are applying the strictest measures enforced in Europe," the French Interior minister said on Tuesday.

Travel across France is limited to what is strictly needed and people will have to fill in a travel document available on the website of the French Interior ministry in order to justify  their movements. There are five possible exceptions.

Travel is allowed for:

Those that need to travel for work when working from home is not possible

To buy essentials in a list of government-approved shops

For health reasons

For family reasons, to take care of children and vulnerable people

For some physical activity close to home and walking dogs.

But as Castaner said, after President Macron’s “We are at war” speech, people in France can go out to breathe some fresh air but "certainly not to play football!”

Travel docs or fines imposed

The interior minister said that around 100,000 policemen and gendarmes will be deployed across the country to ensure that the recommendations to contain the alarming spread of coronavirus in France is respected.

They will man fixed and mobile check points, which means that people may be randomly stopped to explain what they are doing outdoors.

People in France will need to produce the travel document which may be written down on paper for those who do not have a printer.

A new travel document is needed each time people have to go outdoors. Journalists are allowed to use their press cards to move around.

Fines from  ‎€38 euros and up to  ‎€135 will be imposed on people who do not respect the rules outlined under the lockdown.

Castaner insisted that the idea is not to sanction people but to ensure that the French public demonstrates "a sense of responsibility and civic duty" while facing the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay at home

The #ResterChezVous or stay at home instruction means that public gatherings are banned, including team sports. Castaner explained that picnics are to be excluded as are “meeting friends or family”.

Leisure activities and tourism-related trips are to be suspended, he added.

“I understand that these are sacrifices”, Castaner said, “but I’m sure we all understand we need to endure them because our lives, your lives and those dear to you are at stake here.”

Europe borders closed

France, in accordance with the European Union (EU), has decided to close its borders to all non-Europeans and non-Schengen members. This for the next 30 days. People with a valid visa may be allowed within the EU.

Citizens of the United Kingdom will be able to travel within the EU zone. Castaner said that travelling within the EU will be limited to what is strictly essential.

“I want to insist, we are not closing down all our borders,” he added. “People who regularly work in neighbouring countries will be allowed to do. And transport of basic goods and health supplies are not banned. So, there is no need to panic.”

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