PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron ordered a night time curfew for Paris and eight other French cities to contain the spread of COVID-19 after daily new infection rates reached alarming record levels.
In a televised interview, Macron said residents of those cities – which combined are home to close to a third of the French population – would not be allowed to be outdoors between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am from Saturday, for at least four weeks except for essential reasons.
“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” Macron said, adding the measure would stop people visiting restaurants and private homes in the late evening and night. “We are going to have to deal with this virus until at least the summer of 2021,” Macron said, saying “all scientists” were in agreement on that point.
He said new daily coronavirus cases must be brought down to 3,000 or 5,000, from current levels, which have reached up to almost 27,000. In addition to Paris and its region, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse were being targeted by the measures, Macron said.
“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.”
Macron acknowledged the measure was hard on young people, but that the health crisis left little choice. “It’s hard to be 20 in 2020,” he said.
He urged people to limit gatherings in their homes to six people and wear protective masks on such occasions. Anyone found to be outdoors during the curfew without special authorisation would face a fine of 135 euros ($159), and more than 10 times that sum for repeat offenders, Macron said.
Macron said 32 percent of France’s 5,000 intensive care places were currently occupied by coronavirus patients. He also said that France would soon adopt a new testing strategy, which could include self-testing, and would allow a drastic reduction in the wait for a result.
He admitted that the French phone app StopCovid had not worked and had been downloaded much less than similar apps in neighbouring countries, adding a new app would be presented later this month.