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Travellers face quarantine as France extends health emergency

A Covid-19 patient is taken for a scan at a hospital in the Paris suburb of Stains.
A Covid-19 patient is taken for a scan at a hospital in the Paris suburb of Stains. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

France has decided to extend a "state of health emergency" imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic for two months until July 24, Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Saturday, adding that incoming travellers will face a two-week quarantine upon arrival. 

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A bill to be put to parliament on Monday says plans this month to lift the public health emergency, which began on March 24, would "be premature" and "could see a risk of the outbreak" intensifying.

"We are going to have to perform a long-distance run," Véran told a news conference, saying he was aware that the French people had already been asked for "colossal efforts" in the fight against the virus.

The government's draft bill also lays out the quarantine conditions for people coming to France from abroad.

Travellers to France, including French citizens returning home, will face a compulsory two-week quarantine and possible isolation when they arrive in the country to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the health minister told a news conference.

Véran said the duration and conditions of the quarantine would be defined in a decree to be published. Decisions to isolate people would be scrutinised by judges to ensure they are justified and fair, he added.

It was not immediately clear whether the quarantine would only apply to people arriving from outside Europe's open-border Schengen area, whether they would need to self-isolate at home or in hotels, and for how long the measures would be in place.

More than 24,700 people have died of the Covid-19 disease so far in France. The country is preparing to ease restrictions on May 11 following a strict nationwide lockdown, which was imposed on March 17.

In an address marking international Labour Day on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the exit from lockdown would not signal a return to “normal life”.

"There will be a recovery that will need to be reorganised," Macron said. "There will be several phases and May 11 will be one of them.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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