Travel certificates: how the government got its feet in the carpet

Assailed by the many criticisms, the government had to review its copy. New travel certificates were posted on Saturday, March 20 in the evening. They replaced the long and complex one which was published Friday evening to accompany the new restrictions in force in the 16 departments placed in confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Franceinfo looks back on this turnaround in five acts.

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Act 1: posting of the certificate and first surprise reactions

The certificate posted online by the Ministry of the Interior on Friday evening concerns the reasons for exceptional travel within the framework of the curfew and confinement, for the territories concerned. The proof of professional travel and the proof of school travel (two separate documents that have existed since the previous confinements), them, do not change. The main certificate, which spans two pages, lists 15 potential reasons, different distances (1 km, 10 km, 30 km …), asterisks and exceptions. The first page concerns all trips, day and night. The second page concerns daytime travel in the 16 departments subject to reinforced measures.

The certificate also contains inconsistencies, such as taking your pet out for short trips, within a radius of only 1 km around your home but, at the same time, the possibility of taking a family walk. , without time restriction, within a radius of 10 km around your home.

The first reviews, Saturday morning, are harsh. They denounce the “technocracy” or the “bureaucracy” behind this document which is difficult to understand.

Act 2: the Ministry of the Interior concedes that “the certificate is complex”

Camille Chaize, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior, tries to clear up the situation on news channels. She returns in particular to this new travel certificate on Saturday morning on BFMTV. “I grant you, the certificate is complex”, she concedes.

For each reason for travel, it is necessary to refer to the corresponding distance, she also sums up on LCI, recognizing once again the complexity of the document.

Faced with growing incomprehension, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, asks the prefects, in a document that franceinfo was able to consult, to make this weekend “very educational checks (…) and to show a lot of understanding before verbalizing (as a last resort)”.

Act 3: the opposition shoots red balls on “a bureaucratic masterpiece”

The opposition obviously does not fail to judge the certificate severely. “If there was a competition for the worst inventions, a Lépine competition for the absurd and the useless, the Ministry of the Interior would have a good chance of winning first prize with its bureaucratic masterpiece”, judge on Twitter Bruno Retailleau, president of the senators Les Républicains. Eric Ciotti, LR deputy for Alpes-Maritimes, condemns a document on the same social network “totally delusional”. A message accompanied by a hashtag (and a play on words) to denounce the “technocracy on the move”.

“Fortunately, it is possible for a person without a printer to copy this certificate by hand. The only problem is that by starting to write it at 8 o’clock, you are not sure you have finished it before. the start of the curfew “, ironically for his part the deputy LR Pierre-Henri Dumont.

Act 4: the executive promises a new simplified version

Government and ministerial sources let it be known, in the course of the morning, that a simplified version of the certificate must be unveiled “during the day” of Saturday. The government indicates that it is finally considering giving up daytime certificates for trips within a radius of 10 km. “The idea is to allow the French to use an identity document or proof of address instead of a certificate to justify the fact that they are indeed 10 km from their place of residence”, explains Matignon. The whole is formalized in a press release, at the beginning of the afternoon, which announces two new travel certificates. One for the curfew in mainland France (between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.), the other for daytime travel in the 16 confined departments (between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.).

But this turnaround by the executive does not calm the critics. “They’ve gone mad!”, launches Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, president of Debout la France.

“Once again, this government’s response to the epidemic is a fiasco”, Judge Danièle Simonnet, LFI advisor in Paris, and elected from the 20th arrondissement of the capital.

Act 5: the new certificates posted online … in the evening

The two new certificates are delayed all afternoon. They are finally posted on Saturday evening, after 7 p.m. (and therefore after the entry into force of the curfew).

Will this quack cause tensions within the executive and the administration? The Parisian reports that Emmanuel Macron asked, as early as Saturday morning, “to make it simpler and more efficient”. “Honestly, it didn’t sound like anything. People didn’t understand it.”, recognized a majority adviser to the daily.

“Once again, we give the stick to be beaten by our opponents.”

A majority adviser

to the “Parisian”

A political journalist from BFMTV also indicates that the head of state did not hide his anger. “At this stage, it was not necessary to press the ‘stop’ button, but to tear off the plug“, dropped a member of the executive.

According to her, the first version of the new certificate was drafted by the interministerial crisis unit, which depends on Matignon. A journalist from Opinion report, she, that the Prime Minister “was keen on this certificate”.

Act 6: new quack on the digital certificate for day trips

If the printable versions of the new travel certificates were put online on the website of the Ministry of the Interior on Saturday evening, it was not until late Sunday morning for a generator of these certificates in digital version to be partially available. Partly since, at midday, the generator of certificates for trips between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. in confined departments was still not accessible. “Coming soon”, simply indicates the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Screenshot of the travel certificate generator in digital format indicating that the day certificate (between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. for the 16 departments in enhanced vigilance) will be "Coming soon".  (INTERIEUR.GOUV.FR)

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