France’s curfew and state of emergency explained - and if similar rules could be introduced in the UK

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 9:14 am

A night-time curfew has been imposed on nine French cities as the country attempts to stem the spread of Covid-19. 

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President Emmanuel Macron told the public in a televised message that the restrictions would be introduced from Saturday 17 October, with citizens in the cities named unable to visit restaurants and private homes between 9pm and 6am. 

Residents will be required to provide a reason to authorities if they are outside their home at this time.

The statement comes as countries across Europe have introduced increasingly  severe measures in an attempt to flatten the curve of a second wave, with France also declaring a state of emergency. 

Which areas are affected? 

Capital city Paris is among the nine cities subject to the curfew measures, along with major cities Marseille, Lyon and Lille. 

Citizens of Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Toulouse, Grenoble and Montpellier will also be required to adhere to the new rules. 

The measures will affect 22 million people and will be in place for an initial period of four weeks. 

How will the new measures work? 

From 9pm to 6am, citizens of the affected cities will be unable to visit restaurants, cafes, bars and private homes unless a valid excuse is provided. 

If found to be in breach of the rules a fine of €135 (around £121) will be issued. 

Additionally, gatherings of more than six people are no longer permitted in private homes, with limited exemptions. 

While measures are set to be in place for an initial period of four weeks, Mr Macron indicated that his government would seek to extend the period to six weeks. 

Could the UK implement similar measures? 

The UK government has already introduced a mandatory 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants, though haven't gone as far as issuing a blanket curfew.

Pub goers have been seen spilling onto the streets in major UK cities following the new restrictions, with some suggesting the rules are doing more harm than good. A total of 42 Conversative MPs voted against the measures. 

The UK and devolved governments have not indicated whether they may introduce a more extreme curfew. The governments have already brought in their own series of measures, with Boris Johnson announcing a three tier system for England from Wednesday 14 October.

Three different Local Covid Alert Levels - ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ - have been assigned to areas across England, with Liverpool City Region placed into the ‘very high’ alert level category.

Tier 1 - Medium

  • 10pm curfew for bars, pubs and restaurants
  • You must not socialise in groups larger than six, indoors or outdoors

Tier 2 - High

  • You must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks

Tier 3 - Very high

  • You must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than six in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue
  • Pubs and bars must close

Measures elsewhere in the UK

In Scotland, new measures came in place on Friday 9 October, with the hospitality sector particularly affected.

From Friday 9 October at 6pm, until 6am on Monday 26 October, all hospitality premises may only open indoors between 6am and 6pm, with no sale of alcohol.

However, all premises may open outdoors until 10pm, including for the sale of alcohol, if they are licensed to do so.

In Northern Ireland households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes.

Up to six people from no more than two households in NI can meet up outdoors in a private garden, but social distancing should be maintained.

In Wales people are not allowed to meet socially anywhere indoors with people they don’t live with, including at home, in the pub or elsewhere.

If you have formed an (exclusive) extended household, then you can meet indoors in a group of up to six members of that extended household at any one time (under-11s are not included when counting the six as long as they are part of that extended household