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Coronavirus (Covid-19) in France: information in English

VIRUS COVID-19 / NOVEL CORONAVIRUS – OFFICIAL DIRECTIONS, RECOMMANDATIONS AND SPECIFIC LEGAL PROVISIONS APPLYING IN FRANCE.

By Franck BEAUDOIN, avocat (attorney-at-law in France), FB Juris

Published on idroit.co, on 4 March 2020

SUMMARY IN ENGLISH – The purpose of this article is to provide independent, reliable information, in English, on the new Coronavirus Covid-19, particularly for foreign travellers planning to travel to and from France. The following developments set out the main recommendations of the French government, as well as the specific measures implemented by the authorities in France. It specifies their specific legal foundations. This website is edited by an independent French law firm. This is not an official website. People who understand French are invited to consult the official website of the French government:

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus

OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT ON THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

RÉSUMÉ EN FRANÇAIS – Cet article a pour objectif de délivrer une information indépendante, fiable, en anglais, sur le nouveau Coronavirus Covid-19, particulièrement à l’attention des voyageurs étrangers qui envisagent de voyager et de se rendre en France. Les développements qui suivent exposent les principales recommandations du gouvernement français, ainsi que les mesures spécifiques mises en oeuvre par les autorités en France. Il précise leurs fondements juridiques spécifiques. Le présent site est édité par une société d’avocats indépendante. Ce n’est pas un site officiel. Les personnes comprenant le français sont invitées à consulter le site officiel du gouvernement français :

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus

SITE OFFICIEL DU GOUVERNEMENT FRANÇAIS SUR LE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

# TRAVELLER’S ADVICE – FRENCH SPECIFIC RULES AND DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE VIRUS COVID-19 (NOVEL CORONAVIRUS)

The recommandations and directions of the French government concerning the virus Covid-19 are published specifically on the official website https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus (only available in French at the moment).

Official posters, flyers, leaflets are available in different languages on French official websites (French, English, Italian, Chinese).

Posters: https://www.santepubliquefrance.fr/maladies-et-traumatismes/maladies-et-infections-respiratoires/infection-a-coronavirus/articles/coronavirus-outils-de-prevention-destines-aux-professionnels-de-sante-et-au-grand-public

Advertisement / poster « To protect yourself and others from coronavirus » (in English): download here https://www.santepubliquefrance.fr/maladies-et-traumatismes/maladies-et-infections-respiratoires/infection-a-coronavirus/documents/affiche/to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus

Flyers, posters and screen messages displayed notably in French airports, stations and ports: https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus (download at the bottom of the page; available in French, English, Italian, Chinese).

Other official website: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/informations-pratiques/article/nouveau-coronavirus-covid-19-02-03-2020


# FREEDOM RESTRICTIONS THAT MAY APPLY IN FRANCE IN RELATION WITH THE VIRUS COVID-19 (NEW CORONAVIRUS) – LEGAL BASIS – APPLICABLE FRENCH LAW PROVISION

GENERALLY, IF YOU ARE CONSIDERED A POSSIBLE CASE OF COVID-19 INFECTION, YOU WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF AND ISOLATED IN AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE DEPARTMENT.

Specifically, at a French airport, any symptomatic patients are taken care of by the airport emergency medical service. Then they are isolated and taken care of, as in any possible case, by the SAMU Center 15, in accordance with the procedures in force.

The French authorities may decide any emergency measures, including freedom restrictions, based on article L. 3131-1 of the French Public Health Code.

Applicable French law provision (in French – official website): https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006072665&idArticle=LEGIARTI000006687867&dateTexte=&categorieLien=cid

Pursuant to article L. 3131-1 of the French Public Health Code, in the event of a serious health threat calling for emergency measures, in particular in the event of the threat of an epidemic, the Minister responsible for health may, by reasoned order, prescribe in the interest of public health any measure proportionate to the risks run and appropriate to the circumstances of time and place in order to prevent and limit the consequences of possible threats to the health of the population.

The Minister may empower the territorially competent representative of the State to take all measures for the application of these provisions, including individual measures.


# GENERAL RECOMMANDATIONS

The French government recommends the following barrier gestures.

  • Wash your hands very regularly.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Greet without shaking hands, avoid kissing
  • Use disposable tissues.
  • Wear a mask when you are sick.

The government specified lately that the face mask is wearable « on medical prescription » due to the risk of mask shortage in France. However, these directions are unclear and misleading.

Actually:

  • If you are sick and if there is a risk that you have a virus (Covid-19 or other virus), wear a simple face mask (FFP1) in order to avoid contaminating others (FFP2 should not be wasted in this case, due to the risk of face mask shortage; leave it to the doctors, medics, caregivers… and the at-risk individuals);
  • If you are at-risk, if you have a specific disease and if a virus like the Covid-19 could be extremely dangerous for yourself, wear a face mask FFP2 as far as possible when you are in areas particularly exposed (hospital, area where the Covid-19 is actively circulating…).

AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, IF YOU COME FROM ABROAD, COME WITH YOUR OWN STOCK OF FACE MASKS!

Due to the threat of masks shortage in France, the French government decided to regulate the sales of face masks. You may not be able to buy face masks in France (specifically FFP2), except on medical prescription. Therefore, come with your masks!


# SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS CONCERNING CERTAIN FOREIGN AREAS WHERE THE VIRUS COVID-19 IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING

At the moment, the French government distinguishes specific areas where the virus Covid-19 is actively circulating.

PEOPLE RETURNING OR COMING IN FRANCE FROM A FOREIGN AREA WHERE THE VIRUS #COVID-19 IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING, SHALL COMPLY WITH THE OFFICIAL DIRECTIONS AND RECOMMANDATIONS OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT.

In brief, those people shall:

  • Monitor their temperature twice a day;
  • Watch over the appearance of symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, breathing difficulties…);
  • Watch their hands regularly and/or use antibacterial hand gel;
  • Avoid any contact with at-risk individuals (pregnant women, chronically ill people, the elderly…);
  • Avoid frequenting places where at-risks individuals stand (hospitals, maternity hospitals, accommodation structures for the elderly / retirement homes…);
  • Avoid any non-essential outing / reduce non-essential activities (large gatherings, restaurants, cinemas…).

Workers and students may work provided they have no symptom. Children, college students and high school students may attend creche, school or high school.

IN CASE OF SIGN OF RESPIRATORY INFECTION (FEVER OR FEVERISHNESS, COUGH, BREATHING DIFFICULTIES) IN AN AREA WHERE THE VIRUS IS CIRCULATING, OR WITHIN 14 DAYS FOLLOWING THE RETURN OR ARRIVAL FROM AN AREA WHERE THE VIRUS IS CIRCULATING:

  • Contact the SAMU (French medical emergency service – In France, phone number = dial 15 / In Europe, phone number = dial 112) and specify your symptoms and your stay in an area where the virus is circulating;
  • Avoid any contact with your relatives (or more generally others);
  • Wear a face mask;
  • Do not go to the doctor or the emergencies, to avoid any possible contamination.

# OFFICIAL LIST OF THE FOREIGN AREAS WHERE THE VIRUS COVID-19 IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING.

The official list of the foreign areas where the virus Covid-19 is actively circulating is published on the official websites https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus and https://www.santepubliquefrance.fr/maladies-et-traumatismes/maladies-et-infections-respiratoires/infection-a-coronavirus/articles/infection-au-nouveau-coronavirus-sars-cov-2-covid-19-france-et-monde. It may be updated at anytime.

On 4 March 2020, the French official list is as follows:

ASIA

  • China (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao)
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Iran

EUROPE

  • Italy: regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont

Check the updates on the official website: https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus (only available in French at the moment).


# SPECIFIC MEASURES CONCERNING CERTAIN FRENCH AREAS WHERE THE VIRUS COVID-19 IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING

THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT ALSO DEFINED CLUSTERS, WHICH ARE AREAS WITHIN THE FRENCH TERRITORY WHERE THE VIRUS COVID-19 IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING.

Specific measures apply in these French clusters.

On 4 March 2020, these specific measures are the followings:

  • Cancellation of all public events;
  • Closure of schools in particularly affected municipalities, associated with an epidemiological assessment process intended to identify the people to be tested and adapt closure measures over the course of the days;
  • Encouraging residents to use telework and avoid traveling outside the area, or joining public gatherings outside the area (these points are citizens’ responsibility when faced with the spread of a virus).

# OFFICIAL LIST OF THE FRENCH AREAS WHERE THE VIRUS COVID-19 IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING.

On 3 March 2020, the list of the French clusters (areas in France where the virus Covid-19 is actively / widely circulating) is as follows:

1 – Oise, specific areas including the municipalities of Creil, Crépy en Valois, Vaumoise, Lamorlaye and Lagny le Sec.

2 – Haute Savoie, specific areas including the municipality of La Balme.

3 – Morbihan, specific areas including the municipalities of Auray, Crac’h and Carnac.

4 – Grand-Est, specific areas including the municipality of Mulhouse.

Check the updates on the official website: https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus (only available in French at the moment).


# SPECIFIC RECOMMANDATIONS FOR BUSINESSES, EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES

For businesses, employers and employees, the French government publishes directions and recommandations, in French, on the official website https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

AS PART OF ITS HEALTH AND SAFETY OBLIGATIONS TOWARDS EMPLOYEES, THE EMPLOYER SHALL COMPLY WITH THE DIRECTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT AND TAKE ANY RELEVANT MEASURES.


# RIGHT OF WITHDRAWAL OF THE EMPLOYEES

The employees may exercise their right of withdrawal, pursuant to article L. 4131-1 of the French Labor Code.

Applicable French provision (published on the French official website): click here.

French law provides that the worker immediately alerts the employer to any work situation for which he has reasonable grounds to believe that it poses a serious and imminent danger to his life or health and to any defect which he finds in the protection systems. He can withdraw from such a situation. The employer cannot ask the worker who has made use of his right of withdrawal to resume his activity in a work situation where a serious and imminent danger persists, resulting in particular from a defect in the protection system.

Further information is published on the official website (in French at the moment):  https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/coronavirus_entreprises_et_salaries_q-r.pdf.

© FB Juris / idroit.co


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