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French people ignored warnings to self-isolate. Now they need a form to leave the house.

Sinéad Baker , Business Insider US
 Mar 17, 2020, 02:22 PM
Tourists in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on March 17, 2020, a few hours before the order of staying at home to all French citizens came into effect.

  • France is requiring people to produce a form justifying their reasoning for being outside as part of its accelerated coronavirus fight.
  • From midday on Tuesday, people can only leave the house if necessary, and must fill in a form that gives their reason.
  • Some 100 000 police are being deployed to enforce the measure, and people can be fined up to R2 480 for violating it.
  • The extreme rule came after France closed places like bars and coffee shops and told people to stay inside, but people continued to gather.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

France's ramped-up coronavirus measures now require people to produce a document that justifies their reason to be outside - even just for a walk or to go to the shop - after people ignored government urging them to stay at home.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced a 15-day lockdown that comes into effect at midday local time on Tuesday, and said people's journeys outside would be "greatly reduced".

He said that people should only leave their homes if it is necessary - for example for work, to get medical care, to buy groceries in authorised shops, or to do some exercise alone.

But in order to do any of these things, people in France must now download and fill in a form that justifies their reasoning for being outside, doing so for every trip they want to make - and police can check the forms and issue fines for those who do not have one.

The documents asks for peoples' names, birthdays, and reasons for going outside.

Fines for not having the form on you start at R695, and can rise to R2 480. Macron said repeatedly during his speech: "We are at war."

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Monday that 100 000 police officers will be deployed to enforce the rule.

"Stay at home," Castaner said, according to Reuters.

A TV screen in Paris showing French President Emmanuel Macron giving a speech on the country's coronavirus measures on March 16, 2020.

The measures announced by Macron also include restrictions on travel between France and other European Union countries for 30 days.

France has also closed most cafés, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, and shops.

France has recorded more than 6 600 cases of the virus and 148 deaths, according to a tally by researchers at John Hopkins University.

The virus has now infected more than 182 000 people and killed more than 7 000 around the world, prompting governments around the world to launch extreme measures and close borders.

The strict measures come after many ignored officials urging to keep

France has followed the same pattern many countries, where the government first urged people to stay home but turned to increasingly stricter measures when its warnings were ignored or not followed strictly enough.

Hervé Berville, a French lawmaker and Macron ally, told The New York Times of his frustration that many people were still forming crowds in shops and parks on Sunday.

"There was something shocking about it," he told The Times. "The French are not respecting the security warnings," he said. "People are not following social distancing."

He added it was "shocking'' that people ignored "the advice coming from the highest levels of government.''

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe also said on Saturday, when announcing the closure of businesses like shops and cinemas, that: "We have seen too many people in cafes and restaurants. In usual times, this would make me happy because this is the France we all love."

"But for a few weeks, this is not what we should be doing," he said, according to CNN.

Reuters has also reported on people gathering outside of coffee shops, even though they had moved to takeaway-only in a bid to stop people from forming groups or getting too close.

Frederic Monnier, owner of Paris' Le Cafe Tabac, told Reuters: "Just getting a take-away, they gather outside, chat, smoke a cigarette, drink their coffee. So they're not respecting the rules."

France's adoption of the stricter measures has also brought the country's response closer in line with those of Spain and Italy.

Italy, which has been ravaged by the virus, has banned public gatherings, blocked all travel except what is essential, and told people to stay at home. The country has a similar system to France, where people going outside need to produce a form.

An in Spain, the government declared a state of emergency on Saturday, placing the country in lockdown, saying people should only leave their homes if they need to buy food or medicine or go to work or the hospital.

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