Covid-19 in France

6,600 police mobilised over Easter as France enters third Covid lockdown

Police officers control people enjoying a sunny spring day on the grassin front of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, on 31 March, 2021.
Police officers control people enjoying a sunny spring day on the grassin front of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, on 31 March, 2021. © AFP/Bertrand Guay

A third national lockdown comes into effect on Saturday 3 April in France, starting at 7pm (local time) due to last for four weeks. The new restrictions include the closure of schools and "non-essential" businesses in mainland France and a ban on alcohol consumption in public.

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To enforce the health restrictions against Covid-19, some 6,600 police and gendarmes will be deployed during the Easter weekend in the Ile-de-France region. 

They will be deployed in Paris in particular to enforce the 10 kilometres travel limit. Travelling between departments and regions will be tolerated for this Easter weekend. The ban on travelling more than 10 kilometres from home without a valid reason will be effective from Tuesday 6 April in mainland France.

The government has opened the possibility until Monday, for those who can, to isolate themselves in their second home in a different region or with their family. 

After this period, departures will no longer be authorised, except to drop off a child with a relative.

During a visit to the Dordogne region, Prime Minister Jean Castex praised "the unfailing mobilisation of the gendarmerie" since the beginning of the health crisis. The state, he said, also "counts" on their "involvement in the success of the vaccination campaign".

"There's no Easter break in our battle against the virus," he wrote on social media. "Our mobilisation is growing. Thanks to everyone for making an effort, and to those who are protecting themselves and others."

The closure of schools and colleges for three to four weeks, announced on Wednesday by French president Emmanuel Macron, should help slow down the epidemic outbreak, which has been marked by a "sharp increase in the number of new cases over the past three weeks", according to Santé publique France.

"Gatherings of more than six people in public places" remain prohibited and punishable by a fine of 135 euros, the Interior ministry said. In addition, the consumption of alcohol will be prohibited in public for the next few weeks, Jean Castex said on Thursday.

Family parties are not recommended. There is no legal basis for punishing home gatherings, unless they take place during curfew hours, cause a disturbance at night or constitute a "danger to others", for example" at clandestine parties with a large number of participants". 

Extra security

Emmanuel Macron called for responsibility during the Easter weekend, when family lunches are common.

"I know I can also count on you to avoid, as you did at Christmas, private gatherings, parties with friends, family, relatives," Macron said on Wednesday, stressing that "it is on these occasions that we contaminate ourselves the most. It is therefore asked not to meet indoors with people who are not from the same home."

Churches will be allowed to open for Easter services, with limited numbers of worshippers and empty rows between family groups.

Extra security will also be provided for churches in Paris, as part of an anti-terror action, ordered by the Interior Ministry. 850 police officers and 1,100 soldiers will be present to guard churches, mosques and synagogues during the weekend.

According to Santé Publique France, on 2 April, France reported 96,308 deaths and 2,001 new admissions in ICU (Intensive Care Units) over the last seven days due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

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