What are the different scenarios considered by the government?

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Minister of Health Olivier Véran, in Paris on October 15, 2020. – Jacques Witt / SIPA

  • The executive begins to draw the contours of a deconfinement from December 1, which promises to be very “progressive”.
  • The objective is to “avoid stop and go”, that is to say the alternation of periods of confinement and deconfinement.
  • Deconfinement for Christmas, reopening of shops, authorization to celebrate masses, preparation for the arrival of the vaccine… “20 Minutes” details the different scenarios envisaged by the government.

When the peak of the epidemic seems to have been passed, all eyes are already on the
deconfinement to come up. If France crossed, on Tuesday, the bar of two million confirmed cases of
coronavirus, the executive is already working on ending the crisis.

Progressive or total deconfinement, extension of restrictive measures, vaccination… What are the different scenarios envisaged by the executive? 20 Minutes takes stock, while Emmanuel Macron should speak in the middle of next week to unveil the arbitrations.

A progressive deconfinement

With nearly 45,552 additional contaminations in 24 hours recorded Tuesday, the hypothesis of a total deconfinement on December 1 seems unlikely. Admitting that the government had “perhaps deconfined a little too quickly” last spring, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced, Tuesday before the commission of inquiry of the National Assembly, that the next deconfinement would be “progressive”.

The goal ? Avoid a new lockdown of the country at the beginning of 2021. “The idea is that we manage more in the long term”, he explained, pleading for “to avoid the stop and go”, that is to say the alternation periods of confinement and deconfinement. “Braking provisions […] will last ”as long as the virus spreads, he said, referring to traffic restrictions, rallies and even a curfew. And to continue to apply these measures, the executive can count on the state of health emergency, in force until February 16 minimum.

A curfew until January?

In order not to reproduce the errors of the first confinement, the government would consider establishing a curfew to gradually deconfin. An idea that makes little sense according to Michaël Rochoy, general practitioner, researcher in epidemiology and member of the collective “On the side of science”: “The curfew is not the right solution. The virus does not have a watch, it is not Cinderella, it does not stop circulating at a specific time. We need a strategy based on clearly identified objectives. But there, it is illegible as a strategy ”.

A position that Carine Milcent does not fully share, CNRS researcher at the Paris-Jourdan economics laboratory and specialist in health systems. For her, “from the moment we put a curfew, we still limit travel and gatherings. For Christmas Eve, without a curfew, we can have significant flows outside. “

The Christmas question

And on the lips of the French, it’s the same question that keeps coming back: what about Christmas? If the Prime Minister has not yet officially responded, he has already warned that the end of the year celebrations would not look like the ones we usually know, with gatherings in large numbers. As for the movement between the departments during the holidays, no answer has been provided for the moment. But the government has already announced that all trains were open for reservation for the school holiday period.

“For the holiday season, it’s all a matter of arbitration. We have to know whether the government’s public health policy focuses on wearing a mask or limiting interactions to stem the spread of the epidemic, ”explains Carine Milcent, who continues:“ If it is based on limiting interactions Christmas is a time of brewing. Who says circulation of the population, says circulation of the virus. “

Gauges in some places

Still, restrictions on gatherings could be relaxed in some cases. This is particularly the case for religious ceremonies. After a weekend of demonstrations by Catholics demanding the return of mass, Jean Castex received, this Monday, the representatives of the cults and opened the door to the resumption of religious ceremonies “from December 1, subject” to adopt by then a “strict sanitary protocol” and “subject to that the epidemiological situation is improving, ”said Matignon.

Sport, too, should gradually resume in December. Tuesday, after a meeting with sports players, Emmanuel Macron announced that minors could resume sport in associations or clubs, with reinforced health protocols, depending on health trends. “Children will be able to resume in closed places – swimming pools or gymnasiums – probably without masks, but joggers, who run alone, cannot exceed a kilometer around their home. It’s an inconsistent strategy, ”regrets Michaël Rochoy.

An early reopening for businesses

As the end of year holidays approach, the clock is ticking for traders. Hit hard by the confinement, they have been demanding for several days a reopening of their establishments on December 1, even November 27, with a reinforced health protocol. “If the epidemiological indicators follow the trend, then around December 1 (…) we can indeed consider reopening shops that are not essential”, announced Jean Castex, Tuesday, before the commission of inquiry of the Assembly.

Here again, for Carine Milcent, everything is a question of arbitration: “Whether for shops or for places of worship, the criteria are the same. We must be able to ensure the wearing of a mask and social distancing. But there is no reason to prohibit the opening of establishments, whatever they are, if they do not generate gatherings and if barrier gestures are possible ”.

For Michaël Rochoy, shops remain places of high contamination. “We can imagine that some businesses could reopen, but by promoting drive, for example, or by establishing very strict gauges,” he explains. “We cannot relive immediately as we did in 2019. To fight against this virus, we must limit interactions, reduce the mixing of people, limit the projections of postilions. If traders can really control this, we can consider a reopening. For example, a bookstore is possible, but a restaurant is not possible, ”he continues.

Restaurants and bars will have to wait

And justly, restaurants and bars will probably have to wait until 2021 to reopen. “If the public health strategy is to limit the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, it is obvious that restaurants and bars should not be allowed to reopen. Even with a strict sanitary protocol, people necessarily take off their masks to eat or drink, ”says Carine Milcent.

“In the restaurant, it is not possible. Even while respecting a gauge and a space between the tables, one cannot have his mask permanently “, estimates his colleague, who however pleads for the reopening of cinemas or theaters:” In these places, it is possible to open while respecting distancing measures and imposing the mask. Leaving these establishments closed is illogical, ”says Michaël Rochoy.

Prepare for the arrival of a vaccine and multiply the tests

If France did not shine with its strategy of masks and tests, the executive intends not to miss the turn of the vaccines. With five contracts already finalized, France is “in the starting blocks to be ready to distribute a vaccine” in early 2021, assured the government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal. “The challenge now is to reduce mistrust and
to educate people about getting vaccinated. The vaccine will be of no use if the population is not widely vaccinated, ”warns Carine Milcent.

At the same time, the government wants to continue testing massively, in particular through the deployment of antigenic tests. “One could imagine that all French people are tested before Christmas, which would isolate all positive cases. But it’s a matter of costs. It’s a strategy that combines health and the economy, ”says Michaël Rochoy.

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