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HEALTH

Will France be placed on Switzerland’s coronavirus quarantine list?

According to projections from the University of Geneva, arrivals from France may have to quarantine on arrival in Switzerland in the coming days.

Will France be placed on Switzerland’s coronavirus quarantine list?
This photograph taken on April 17, 2020, shows concrete blocks closing the border adorned with graffiti reading 'Our fate depends on your choice' and 'Stay home'. Photo: AFP

France’s infection rates have almost doubled in the previous week. 

The University of Geneva set up a forecasting model which predicts that the infection rate will continue to rise in the coming weeks, eventually crossing the Swiss government's quarantine threshold. 

They now stand at 43 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants – just shy of Switzerland’s quarantine threshold of 60 per 100,000. 

As of August 21st, there are more than 50 countries with an infection rate above Switzerland’s threshold of ‘high risk’. 

UPDATED: Who can enter Switzerland right now? 

With the situation in France escalating, there is the chance the government will impose a mandatory quarantine of ten days on all arrivals – which would create significant problems due to the economic and social connections of the countries. 

An estimated 180,000 residents of France cross the border daily into Switzerland to work, with the majority working in Geneva, Vaud and Basel City. 

The government has not yet indicated whether it would require cross-border workers to quarantine, however special concessions have been made for cross-border workers since the start of the pandemic

Tens of thousands of Swiss also cross the border into France to go shopping, with a quarantine meaning that anyone who entered France – even if just for the purposes of shopping – would be required to quarantine for ten days upon their return. 

UPDATED: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's new quarantine requirement 

A representative of the Department of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs told Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes that “shopping in France would not be possible” if a quarantine came into place. 

Other countries including the Netherlands, Libya, Lebanon and Paraguay are also approaching Switzerland’s quarantine threshold. 

While the government said the list would be updated monthly when it was first implemented, however so far updates have been made immediately as a country crosses the threshold. 

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POLITICS

‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief. 

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