Coronavirus: What if We Put an End to the Curfew?

General News
Chatelet during the curfew at 6 p.m.

EPIDEMIC: In some areas, it has been six months since the curfew was introduced. What if it was time to lift it for good?

  • On the 17th October 2020, Ile-de-France and eight French metropolises entered into curfew. Six months to the day later, France is still under curfew.
  • A measure ineffective, unpopular, even downright unlivable with the return of good weather.
  • Should we raise it?

Six months ago to the day, on the 17th October 2020, due to an outbreak of coronavirus, a  curfew began in Ile-de-France and in eight French metropolises, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Half a year has passed, and the curfew is still there, now between 7 pm. and 6 am., having also started at 8 pm. and 6 pm.

Put end to end, the curfew, therefore, represents one of the longest measures introduced in France, to the point that this duration questions: when will it be lifted, he who dragged on so much? Currently, no course has been set, no quantified target has ever been given to get out of the curfew, and the current situation in France, with an incidence among the highest in Europe and hospitals, still saturated does not invite little to optimism about a near end.

Too limited effectiveness

However, six months of curfew later, the measure will have shown very little effectiveness in really improving the health situation . Seen as a less burdensome alternative to confinement, the curfew has never – or so episodically – resulted in a drop in cases, it has barely allowed the stabilization of a high plateau. And with the sunny days returning and the sun lingering in a sky bluer than ever, the curfew is becoming more and more unpopular and unliveable. For epidemiology researcher Michaël Rochoy, it is time to put an end to this measure: “The curfew does not really make sense, what is needed is to prohibit moments without masks. Indirectly, the curfew prevents certain aperitifs and dinners in the evening, but it is too restrictive a measure vis-à-vis its effectiveness. 

For the doctor, they would have taken more education and explanation on these famous moments without a mask instead of wanting to counter them by indirect effect. “For months, the curfew did not prevent company meals at noon or school canteens. We should have targeted specific events instead of timetables ”. With the curfew, there is no nocturnal walks outside – without risk of contamination and a fine – or shopping at later times in order to avoid population flows.

A counterproductive measure?

The curfew would even be sometimes counterproductive because of the fear of being fined: “People stay to sleep with each other so as not to go home and defeat the curfew, they see each other in the inside so as not to be checked by the police… These are more risky behaviours than without a curfew, ”Michaël Rochoy lists. A departure from the “Outside as a citizen, inside with mine” pleaded by the government. At the end of February, the police estimated that 10% of the French were defrauding the curfew, according to the number of checks by the police.

If the measure aroused support at the beginning of the curfew, 73% of French people were in favour in mid-October according to a Harris poll, it is becoming increasingly unpopular: 64% of the population had a negative opinion of it according to an Odoxa poll. March 2021. And with sunny days and summer, the curfew seems difficult to endure. Anyway, by not lowering a high plateau to 20,000 cases per day at the time, “this measure will only have delayed inevitable third confinement. The curfew will have shifted the confinement from February to April, where it is more restrictive and with a population worn out by months of ineffective measures, ”buries the doctor.

The right time, really?

After all this curfew lawsuit, is it time to finally get rid of it? If the measure does not have a very high efficiency/constraint ratio, it is however difficult to imagine going back on it in France which is experiencing on average 33,000 new cases per day. Hélène Rossinot, the doctor in public health, attests that the moment seems to be very badly chosen: “This is not the moment to relax the slightest measure, even if we can criticize the curfew. If we were to remove it, it would only be to move to real confinement ”. However, this is not the current trend, which is, on the contrary, to reopen schools from April 26th,

In fact, the priority does not really seem to be a debate on the curfew, between this imminent reopening of schools without a reinforced protocol, a vaccination campaign which remains sluggish, and the prospect of the reopening of shops in mid-May. . “We must already focus on the protocols for the places that will reopen”, pleads Hélène Rossinot.

So, will we stay in curfew until the end of time? No, it should end up stopping, or at least take a few precious hours. Already, due to sunny days – the curfew had already been increased from 6 pm. to 7 pm. due to summertime. But also, because of the return of the terraces, ardently desired by Emmanuel Macron for mid-May. Open terraces that would seek maximum profitability to resume business and therefore necessarily collide with a curfew at 7 pm. Michaël Rochoy prophesies: “If the terraces reopen, the curfew will end. For all the wrong reasons, but it will stop. »Conclusion of a measure eternally out of time.

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