Paris (AFP)

France started the day on Friday in slow motion with the entry into force of a new containment intended to slow down the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, even if its terms are much less drastic than those of the previous one in the spring .

This lighter confinement took effect at midnight.

"There is no other solution," Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday evening, the day after the announcement of the measure by President Emmanuel Macron.

This confinement must last "at a minimum" until December 1, according to terms which "will not be those of March-April, because we have learned from the first wave", assured Mr. Castex.

"The crossing of Paris this [Friday] morning looked more like an ordinary day than a first day of confinement. Attention. A lot is being played out at the moment if we want to avoid the overflow," said on Twitter the director general of the 'AP-HP (Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris), Martin Hirsch.

On the other hand, the crowd was significantly less than a normal day in public transport.

- Certificates -

In Lille, a little before 9:00 a.m., the Lille-Flandres station was rather quiet but a few dozen travelers of all ages hurried, some of them equipped with large suitcases, to their train to Paris.

Three police officers made a regular round without checking the travelers.

Serge, 62 years old and retired, had "planned for a long time to spend a few days in Lille, then the weekend in Paris", before returning home to Avignon on Monday.

"I will follow my plans, and bet on the tolerance of the police," he told AFP.

As during the first confinement from mid-March to early May, exemptions will be possible for shopping, going to the doctor, but also getting air for "one hour maximum" and in "a radius of one kilometer from the home ", according to Mr. Castex.

The fine will still cost 135 euros, but to make things easier, "permanent certificates" will this time be issued by companies and schools.

Public service counters or food markets will remain open (unless the prefect decides otherwise), and some stores benefit from exemptions.

But businesses deemed non-essential (including bars and restaurants) will remain closed.

There are three major changes compared to spring: schools, colleges and high schools will remain open after the start of the All Saints holidays on Monday, work can continue and we can visit residents of nursing homes.

But "the use of teleworking must be as massive as possible" and instituted "five days out of five", according to Mr. Castex.

It is "not an option", but an "obligation", insisted the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne.

The authorities will take stock every two weeks on the evolution of the epidemic to see if the measures should be strengthened or lightened.

On Wednesday, Mr. Macron had indicated that the goal was to go "to about 5,000" cases of contamination per day, against more than 47,000 recorded Thursday.

- "Justice of the peace" -

This bar of 5,000 contaminations will be "a justice of the peace," epidemiologist Dominique Costagliola told AFP.

"But four weeks [of confinement] is really the minimum", she added, judging that it was necessary "to wait two or three weeks" to have "a more precise idea of ​​a realistic potential duration ".

As of Thursday, 3,147 people were in intensive care or intensive care.

The death toll has exceeded 36,000, including 250 in hospital in the past 24 hours.

"We had anticipated the second wave," insisted Mr. Castex, facing accusations from the opposition and many health specialists.

But there will be a peak in hospitalizations in November "higher than in April," he warned to justify the choice of re-containment.

On Thursday, Parliament approved this choice by 399 votes to 27 in a vote that was not binding, while the Senate, dominated by the right, refused its support (178 votes against, 130 for and 27 abstentions) .

Unsurprisingly, the reconfinement will weigh heavily on the French economy and the government now expects a slightly more severe recession than expected this year, despite the strong rebound in the French economy in the third quarter.

The gross domestic product (GDP) should contract by 11% said Friday the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, while he predicted a recession, already significant, of 10% so far.

A situation all the more complicated for the government as it faces another emergency, that of security after the Islamist attack which killed three people in a church in Nice on Thursday.

© 2020 AFP