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Paris to close all bars and cafes as French capital goes under maximum coronavirus alert

In Paris, restaurants can stay open subject to some restrictions.

An empty terrace of a Paris bar.
An empty terrace of a Paris bar.
Image: PA Images

BARS AND CAFES are set to close in Paris but restaurants will be allowed stay open under tightened restrictions, under new measures that will last for 15 days. 

It comes as the French capital is is placed on maximum coronavirus alert in the face of alarming Covid-19 infection numbers.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the capital’s police chief Didier Lallement will spell out the conditions later today.

Health Minister Olivier Veran announced last week that only improved Covid-19 infection rates could prevent “total closures” of the city’s trademark cafes and bars.

France reported nearly 17,000 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday alone, the highest daily number since the country began widespread testing.

Figures from the regional health agency ARS show new coronavirus cases remaining above 250 per 100,000 people in Paris.

That threshold triggers the maximum alert protocol, which has already hit the southern cities Aix-en-Provence and Marseille and their surroundings, as well as the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe.

Coronavirus patients are now taking up more than 30% of the intensive care beds in the Paris region.

“There is no justification for denial,” said Paris region health director Aurelien Rousseau on Sunday. “The numbers are what they are, and they are weighing heavily.”

‘We’re French, we love to drink’

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin acknowledged that the closure of bars and cafes would be “tough” for everyone concerned.

“We are French, we love to drink, to eat, to live, to smile and to kiss each other,” he told broadcasters LCI and Europe 1 on Sunday.

“But we’re also doing this because the people want us to,” he added.

BFM television on Sunday published a poll saying that 61% of people living in Paris and its suburbs were in favour of a complete closure of bars, currently authorised to remain open until 10pm

Mayor Hidalgo told reporters on Sunday: “It’s not a done deal, there is still work being done, we’re still talking”. But she also conceded that the health situation was “very serious”.

The government has said it will primarily target establishments that “serve alcoholic drinks without food”.

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Other large French cities including Lille, Lyon, Grenoble and Toulouse are also hovering near the maximum alert threshold and similar measures to those in the capital could be in store for them, too.

Madrid

In Spain, Madrid went into a partial lockdown late on Friday that cuts it off from the rest of the country.

The new restrictions, which will also apply to nine other nearby towns where infection rates are high, will mean people are only allowed to leave the area for work, school or medical and legal reasons.

Although Madrid’s regional leaders have agreed to implement the restrictions, they strongly oppose the closure, filing an appeal at the National Court to challenge its legality.

Madrid is struggling with a rate of 780 cases per 100,000 people, compared with just 300 per 100,000 in the rest of Spain — which in itself is the highest in the European Union. 

© – AFP 2020

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