Faced with rising infection rates and a stubbornly high death rate, the French government will not relax coronavirus restrictions from December 15, apart from removing the need for a daytime attestation – a document giving a reason to be out of the home and with a daily time limit of three hours.

While the French public will welcome the suspension of the attestation requirement, there is likely to be widespread disappointment that a curfew stays in place and has been strengthened. Instead of being in force from 21:00 until 06:00 the curfew will apply from 20:00 until 07:00. An attestation will remain necessary from 20:00 until 06:00.

Health Minister Oliver Veran said on Thursday, December 10, that France has not yet come out of the second wave.

In announcing a relaxation of measures three weeks ago, the prime minister had said that restrictions could be loosened again from December 15 if the number of daily new cases was in the region of 5,000. In the last few days it has been above 12,000.

Only December 24 and 31 will be exempt from the curfew.

In addition, the number of adults meeting privately can not exceed six, according to the new rules, a measure that will be difficult to enforce in private homes.

Meanwhile, the hardline minister of the interior, Gerald Darmanin, has promised stricter enforcement of the restrictions with 100,000 national police and gendarmes especially mobilised.

In the longer term, the target date for the reopening of bars and restaurants – January 20 – seems to be increasingly optimistic.

FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks during the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau