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Coronavirus in France

Macron imposes anti-virus curfew in Paris region and eight other French cities

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation during a televised interview from the Elysée Palace concerning the situation of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in France, in Paris on October 14, 2020.
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation during a televised interview from the Elysée Palace concerning the situation of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in France, in Paris on October 14, 2020. AFP - LUDOVIC MARIN

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered a night-time curfew in Paris and eight other French cities, starting from Saturday for at least four weeks, as part of a renewed state of emergency in response to a dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases. 

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Starting on Saturday, residents in the Paris region and eight other major cities, will not be allowed to be outdoors between 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) and 6:00 am (0400 GMT) without special authorisation, for at least four weeks.

The measure is part of a renewed state of emergency, which allows the national government to restrict public gatherings and movement countrywide.

"We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," Macron said Wednesday in a highly-anticipated televised interview, after France reported over 22,000 coronavirus cases in 24 hours.

The curfew is meant to stop people going out at night to restaurants and bars. Anyone found breaking it faces a fine of 135 euros, or 1,500 euros if they violate the curfew more than once.

"We won't be leaving the restaurant after 9:00 pm," Macron said. "We won't be partying with friends because we know that that's where the contamination risk is greatest."

In addition to Paris and its region, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse are also being targeted by the new restrictions.

Fears of another shutdown

"We are in a worrying situation," Macron said, all the while insisting France had not "lost control" of the virus and a second full lockdown, like the two-month measure earlier this year, would be "disproportionate". 

Macron called on businesses to prioritise two to three days of remote work for their employees and promised there would be economic help for sectors affected by the nighttime curfew, notably restaurant owners.

However, unions representing the hospitality industry denounced what they described as a "disguised lockdown", saying that the new restrictions were tantamount to a fresh shutdown of their businesses, already hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.

The French leader however ruled out imposing new travel restrictions ahead of the school holidays this Friday, saying that "asking people to stay confined inside an apartment instead of going to their holiday home, would be disproportionate."

New testing strategy 

Macron was also quizzed on the government's coronavirus testing strategy, which he admitted had not gone far enough. He promised a new approach that would "drastically reduce turnaround times for tests," as well as incorporate new techniques, including antigen tests and self-tests.

France has recorded 798,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 33,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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