Bars in Paris to close for two weeks as city placed on 'maximum alert'

Paris is set to be put on its maximum coronavirus alert level from tomorrow, forcing bars to shut for two weeks. 

Restrictions on the French capital, which come amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, will see restaurants allowed to stay open if they put in place new measures, the prime minister’s office announced. Bar owners had already been angered by new rules forcing them to close at 10pm.

The plan appears similar to the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown measures reportedly considered by the British Government in recent weeks – with the UK likely to be watching on to see if the same move could be mirrored here. 

With France now battling a second wave of coronavirus, PM Jean Castex’s team said working from home should be prioritised ‘now more than ever’. Indoor sport facilities, including swimming pools, will only be open to children aged under 18, while gyms are already closed.

Gatherings of over 10 and selling alcohol after 10pm will also be forbidden, the Guardian reported.

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Cinemas, theatres and museums will remain open with strict sanitary rules, but fairs and professional shows won’t be allowed. 

Mr Castex’s office suggested there had been no improvement around the Paris region since the capital passed all three of the government’s criteria for being put on the highest alert level of alert in the middle of last week.

They added that university lecture halls should be no more than half full, with restrictions taking effect from Tuesday.

A statement said: ‘These measures, indispensable in the fight to curb the virus’ spread, will apply to Paris and the three departments immediately surrounding it, for a duration of two weeks.’

Student parties and all other festive and family events in establishments open to the public will be banned.

Authorities have maintained the limit of 1,000 spectators per day at big sports events, allowing the Roland-Garros tennis tournament to continue as planned this week.

Restaurants restrictions are expected to include distance between each table, a limitation of the number of people and a request to register customers’ contact details.

For an area to be placed on maximum alert in France, the number of cases must go above 100 infections per 100,000 among elderly inhabitants and 250 per 100,000 among the general public, while more than 30% of intensive care beds also need to be occupied by coronavirus patients.

The director of the Regional Health Authority, Aurelien Rousseau, said about 3,500 new cases are being confirmed on average each day in the Paris region, and 36% of ICU beds in the area are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Paris police prefect Didier Lallement announced the new restrictions would apply at least for the next two weeks.

‘We are continuously adapting to the reality of the virus. We are taking measures to slow down (its spread),’ he said.

A week ago, restaurants and bars were shut down for a fortnight in Marseille, the southern city at the epicentre of the latest outbreak, prompting protests and an unsuccessful legal challenge.

Restaurants in Marseille will be allowed to reopen early under the same protocols as in Paris.

Nearby Aix-en-Provence, as well as the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean have also been placed on the maximum alert.

On Sunday, France reported 12,565 new cases of coronavirus, while 893 patients were admitted to intensive care in the past week. 

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