France in lockdown: your questions answered

emmanuel macron announcement confinement lockdown coronavirus covid 19 measures
Ludovic Marin via AFP

Last night French President Emmanuel Macron announced total, nationwide quarantine lasting at least 15 days in attempt to tackle the growing threat of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.



From midday today, movement is heavily restricted for at least the next 15 days. In line with Spain and Italy, these measures have been taken to contain the spread of the virus. After exceptional closures of schools and universities yesterday as well as all non-essential shops from Saturday night, it was only a matter of time before the authorities tightened the restrictions.


35 million people are estimated to have watched President Macron’s address last night. His speech has left a feeling of uncertainty amongst many citizens. However, the President assured that now is not the time to panic. As Monaco is expected to follow suit, here is a list of the key measures imposed and the answers to your questions.


1. Drastic movement restrictions 

There are the only exceptions to leaving your home:

  • To attend work when it is impossible to work at home (further justification needed, e.g. work pass)
  • To seek medical help
  • To buy necessary provisions (food, toiletries, etc.)
  • To undertake brief, individual physical exercise in the direct surroundings of your home. Group and organised activities are prohibited
  • To attend to a relative, a vulnerable person or a child in need of care

The French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner presented a speech yesterday outlining the specifics of the confinement. When asked to confirm what brief physical exercise was, he responded: “If I had to sum it up, I’d say we can get some fresh air, yes, but certainly not to play a football game.”


2. Statement of trip compulsory if going outside 

The government has provided a sample statement for citizens to download. If you are unable to print the statement out, authorities will accept a written version.


3. Fines will be imposed if walking outside without authorisation

Unauthorised trips include leaving without presenting a statement or work pass. The fine will be 38 euros until the Senate passes the law allowing the fine to be 135 euros.


4. Lockdown to last at least 15 days 

It is wise to prepare for longer to avoid feelings of claustrophobia.


5. Hospitals, pharmacies, groceries and supermarkets to remain open

Every other establishment is will be closed. Supplies are being regularly distributed to all shops and pharmacies so there is no cause for panic because of shortages.

Take-away and delivery activities in restaurants and pubs will also be maintained for more vulnerable citizens as long as it is possible to avoid “any contact”.

No announcements have been made concerning which banks, tobacconists, newsagents and petrol stations are to remain open.


6. 100,000 police officers and gendarmes mobilised, with army deployed in certain cities

Christophe Castaner, during the press conference, said: “As of tonight, I am ordering the internal security forces to get on the ground and prepare the implementation of the controls.”


7. Rationing is not an option, no need to panic-buy

Minister for the Economy Bruno Le Maire assured that there will be no rationing to come but called on citizens to not panic-buy items and to not buy more than necessary.


8. Leaving the country

Long distance transport has been drastically reduced, with TGV and intercity trains affected as of today. Only a few international flights to the United States, the Outre-mer regions and Africa will be maintained. All movement out of the Schengen zone has been forbidden for 30 days. UK nationals have time to leave to go home if they wish.


9. Entering the country

French citizens have been allowed some time to travel back to reach their homes. No one else is permitted to enter the country.


10. Only go to the hospital if you show severe signs of coronavirus

This includes serious difficulty breathing, or if you fall into the categories of vulnerable people, such as having a pre-existing respiratory or autoimmune conditions. For everyone else, the order is to ring your doctor or ask for an online consultation but most of all do not go to the practice.


The Sovereign Prince of Monaco Albert II is expected to to give address the Monegasques tonight at 8pm.