View the Country Report for France in the Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19

In March 2021, France reported 3,909,560 cases of Covid-19 and 88,933 deaths. Approximately a month after the first case was reported in the country, the Government decided to impose a national stay-at-home requirement on the population on 17 March 2020, along with a mandatory closure of most businesses. By that time, France counted 6,633 cases for 148 deaths. Thanks to this 'lockdown', hospitals were not overwhelmed and, if some of them were in a critical state, they could always transfer patients to other hospitals. It is noteworthy to stress that France had a shortage of personal protection equipment, including face masks, which were then seized for use by hospitals only. The peak was reached on 14 April 2020 with 31,779 hospitalized patients and 7,148 in Intensive Care Units. The stay-at-home requirement then took an end on 11 May 2020 but some restrictions still applied.

During the summer 2020, most businesses could open again. The Government's strategy focused on large-scale testing, which was totally free of charge for the population. It consisted of contacting and warning other people who had been in contact with an individual testing positive for Covid-19. However, the second wave soon hit the country and, by the end of October 2020, there were seven times more hospitalized patients because of Covid-19 than on 17 March 2020. More than 50,000 cases were identified each day. As a consequence, the stay-at-home requirement was renewed from 17 October 2020 to 15 December 2020. It was then replaced by a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am.

The Government enjoyed extensive powers, in order to adopt such restrictive measures, which were conferred by the newly created state of health emergency. It was first declared on 23 March 2020 and took an end on 11 July 2020. Facing the second wave, the state of health emergency was decreed again by the President on 14 October 2020. It remains in force today.

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