COVID-19

Paris opposition shoots down mayor's plan for three-week lockdown

Throngs of people enjoy the mild weather on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on 24 February, 2021.
Throngs of people enjoy the mild weather on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on 24 February, 2021. AP - Michel Euler

Political opponents have lambasted plans by the Paris mayor’s office to propose a three-week lockdown in the French capital, as new variants of the coronavirus take hold across the country.

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After the Ile de France region that surrounds Paris was put under “reinforced surveillance” Thursday, deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said city authorities favoured a fresh lockdown.

His comments, to France Info radio, come after weekend lockdowns were announced for the northern city of Dunkirk and the French Riviera cities of Nice and Cannes.

Gregoire said a complete three-week lockdown would be a better option for Paris because it “gives oxygen to the prospect of reopening everything” afterwards, including bars, restaurants and cultural venues.

The Socialist deputy mayor dismissed weekend lockdowns as a measure that was “very restrictive in terms of societal impact, and not very effective in terms of health”.

Vocal opposition

However elected members from opposition parties were quick to denounce the idea as a political move that comes ahead of campaigning for the next mayoral elections.

"We should have been warned a little earlier. There was no discussion, no consultation," Philippe Goujon, right wing mayor of Paris’s 15th arrondissement, told BFMTV.

The proposed lockdown looked like a “political coup" by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, he added. "Parisians are being taken hostage in this pre-election campaign.” 

Meanwhile Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th arrondissement, released a statement on Twitter saying a new lockdown would endanger the economic and psychological lives of millions of people".

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal on Friday added his voice to the mix, saying: "I hear very few, if any, scientists say that within three weeks we can wipe out the virus."

Following Thursday night’s announcement by Prime Minister Jean Castex that Paris would join 19 other departments in becoming a highly monitored red zone, Hidalgo said the time had come for “courageous decisions”.

She added: “You can't force yourself to live in a semi-prison for months on end.”

Proposals by the Paris mayor will be presented to the city’s police prefects who, under emergency health laws, have the power to impose measures to protect public health.

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