French ministers reject ‘lovers’ amendment’ and rule out easing long-distance travel restrictions for couples

Couples in France who live far from each other will be forced to remain apart under coronavirus restrictions after French ministers rejected a proposed change to the law which would have allowed long-distance travel for the reason of “love”.

Mireille Clapot, a member of the ruling centrist party LREM, suggested love should be added to a list of acceptable reasons for people to travel more than 100km (60 miles) from home when lockdown restrictions are eased on Monday.

Ms Clapot’s proposal, which she referred to as a “lovers’ amendment”, was rejected during a debate on legislation in the French parliament this week.

“The law has restricted public liberties so much that it is very close to banishing love,” the MP warned, arguing that many couples had been separated since 17 March due to the lockdown.

Although Olivier Veran, the French health minister, thanked Ms Clapot for a “moment of tenderness” from her amendment, he said the government did not want to increase the number of exceptions to the rules in law.

Around 50 French MPs have already called for an exception in the legislation to include visiting a newborn baby as an acceptable reason for travelling more than 100km.

From Monday, people in France will no longer have to fill out a form to leave their house, with trips up to 100km from home and gatherings of up to 10 people allowed without justification.

Longer journeys will need to be justified for work or “compelling” family reasons using a signed form.

The legislation will also extend the country’s state of emergency until 23 July, with the new restrictions set to be reviewed in three weeks so long as there has not been a widespread increase in new virus cases.

The new rules will allow for the reopening of some shops but bring in quarantines for people arriving in any French territory from outside the EU, Schengen Area and the UK, and the compulsory wearing of face-masks on public transport.

France has recorded more than 26,000 deaths from Covid-19, as of Sunday morning, and more than 175,000 cases of the virus.

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