Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wants to put an end to scenes of large outdoor gatherings, and has told regional authorities to reinforce policing, according to a document seen by French media.
He has asked that “public gatherings of more than six people are subject to strict fines”. The crackdown is for the whole country and not just those areas recently placed under a new ‘lockdown light’.
France banned gatherings of more than six people in public during the second lockdown in October, but few are familiar with the rule and police rarely enforce it.
This will now change, as the interior minister in his note asked for reinforced policing of parks, gardens and riverbanks to prevent scenes as seen in Paris during the first weekend of the new restrictions, when scores of people gathered by the Seine to enjoy the sunny weather.
Breaking the rule could be punishable with a €135 fine, rising to €3,750 and six months in jail for repeat offenders.
Protests, large families, work gatherings and funeral ceremonies are exempt from the rule, the interior ministry specified.
The government has also asked that people living in areas free from lockdown measures limit their private gatherings to six people, but this is a guideline, not a rule.
In the 16 départements on lockdown, the government has asked that everyone stops inviting people from outside their household to their homes. Instead they should meet up with friends or extended family outside in public in small groups.
For full details on the Covid-19 rules and guidelines, click HERE.
This comes as Covid-19 rates continue to soar, with three additional départements set to be added to the list of areas currently on the new lockdown.
Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a press conference on Thursday at 6pm to lay out the latest health situation. He is not expected to announce new measures for the 16 départements currently on tighter measures.
The president of the greater Paris region Île-de-France Valerie Pecresse has suggested bringing forward school holidays by two weeks to help stem the third wave.
Despite cases rising among schools, leading to classes being sent home, the government has insisted closing them is still a last resort.