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26 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Going to France? This is how it looks now. Compare that with the UK.
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Going to France? This is how it looks now. Compare that with the UK.

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How many other countries in Europe will be following this example? Probably loads. Britain too?

Last night at 8pm Central European Time we gathered around the TV to listen to the President of the Republic address the nation, and deliver perhaps one of the worst kept secrets so far this year. We are back in lockdown, a decision taken in conjunction with the opposition parties and trade unions, in other words all those in responsibility.

Lesser measures taken since the first lockdown in the spring have, put simply, not worked. Many, myself included, believed the nation to have been unlocked with indecent haste back in the early summer, the result of which was only going to end one way – and that way certainly wasn’t going to be good! But business and the population had had enough. The people needed to be unshackled, if only temporarily, and business needed an urgent infusion of funds. The second wave has arrived frighteningly close to the chronological point that the scientists warned, many months ago, that it would.

Everywhere you go in France, that is open to the public (shops, surgeries, bars etc) has special Covid procedures in place, and by and large the French, certainly around here, are compliant. You rarely see anyone outdoors without a mask. Notwithstanding that, the figures have defied the ever increasing restrictions applied over the summer, and there was only one place France was heading, despite the government’s earlier statement that they would not again use national lockdown as a weapon against Covid. With each new restriction, numbers actually grew – something had to give!

Save for two areas – schools up to Lycée will remain open, and care homes will accept visits by relatives – the measures set down by President Macron last night are identical to those in force earlier in the year.

Bars, restaurants and non-essential retail outlets must completely close. They will be compensated. Pharmacies, tobacconists, and food retailers can open, and unlike Wales, anything can be bought in supermarkets, essential or not, provided the store sells food (although your journey itself is only legal if it is your intention to buy something essential, like food). Likewise car repair shops, possibly builders’ merchants, and places like undertakers, will also be open. Macron promised to review the status of small non-essential retailers after two weeks. I suspect numbers will still be rising after just a fortnight of lockdown, so wouldn’t anticipate any movement that soon. Perhaps reacting to the appalling situation in Britain’s university towns and cities, the French government have ordered all universities to close, and operate by distance learning only.

Only one person per household may shop for essential items. A husband and wife may not food shop together. It is not permitted to take an elderly person shopping. You must shop for them.

Obviously we are permitted to consult with a doctor, dentist etc., appear in court if summoned, care for an elderly or infirm person, and deliver child care. We can exercise, or exercise our pets, once a day, for a maximum of one hour, and only within 1km of home. Essential workers can travel to work. Non-essential workers must work from home, unless this is not physically possible. Entry from another EU nation is still unrestricted, but France’s borders are allegedly sealed in respect of non-EU arrivals.

The big difference between French lockdowns (the one about to start, and the previous one), and the British lockdown earlier this year, is the question of enforcement. The French don’t mess around!

Every person leaving home, must carry with them an “Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire”, copy attached to this article in pdf. This is filled in and signed prior to leaving home, attesting to the purpose of the journey from a short list of permitted activities on the government website. It is usually fixed to the offside rear passenger window of the car so it can be read without opening the driver’s window. A separate form is required for every person. There is an extremely high chance that you will be stopped and challenged by the police, the gendarmerie or occasionally, the army, at mobile road blocks. If you do not have the form, and suitable ID, or if your route is not conducive with the claimed activity, you face an on the spot fixed penalty (as high as a four figure sum last time for serial offenders) or arrest and a short custodial sentence. Checking the driver’s eyesight is emphatically not an accepted derogation from the law! Given the penalties involved, and the high chance of being challenged, the last lockdown was very well observed, and as we know, it worked, although at a very high price!

John W H Quayle

Editor’s comments

France has now clocked up almost 1.25 million recorded cases of Covid and also suffered almost 36000 deaths, a position we really did not expect to see and the UK is now following hot on its heels with 942000 recorded cases but well ahead on deaths at approaching 46000 and with daily new recorded cases running in the 20000’s Britain is romping forward at a similar rate. What we see in England is that slowly more and more areas are elevated to tier 2. And today new statistics have emerged stating that it is believed that there are 100000 new cases in all per day in England.

Where is the best place for you to be?

Adrian Leopard 29-10-20

Photo Stephanie LeBlanc

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