All bars, cafés and restaurants are to shut down in France’s second city because of the worsening Coronavirus pandemic, the country’s Health Secretary said tonight.
The closures in Marseille – which start on Monday – were announced by Olivier Véran on Wednesday as part of a nationwide series of tough new measures.
They also include bars in Paris, Lille and Grenoble having to shut at 10pm from Monday, while gatherings of more than 10 people will also be banned.
An even earlier closure of bars can also be sanctioned by local prefects, said Mr Véran.
A lowering of the number of people allowed to attend sports and cultural events from 5,000 to 1,000, and a temporary ban on renting party venues, including for weddings, were also announced.
The closures in Marseille (pictured) – which start on Monday – were announced by Olivier Véran on Wednesday as part of a nationwide series of tough new measures
‘The Greater Paris health system is now strongly under strain’ said Mr Véran, during a press conference broadcast live.
‘The number of hospitalised patients within the region is increasing very rapidly. There are nearly 1,000 hospitalisations for Coronavirus over the last seven days, against 460 the previous week. A doubling.’
The total shut down of bars, cafés and restaurants in Marseille will last for a minimum of two weeks to begin with, and will be reviewed after that.
It will mean many businesses facing ruin, especially if the closures turn into rolling ones.
The total shut down of bars, cafés and restaurants will also be introduced in the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean.
‘The Greater Paris health system is now strongly under strain’ said Mr Véran (pictured), during a press conference
Mr Veran said the new measures were ‘not aimed at scaring people too much, but it is to tell you that there is still time to act.
‘The measures we are taking aim to make this curve flat, or rather to get off the path we’re on, so as to protect our hospitals and intensive care units.
‘If we do not take action quickly, we risk reaching a critical situation in some of the most affected areas in a matter of weeks.’
It followed ministers in Paris holding a series of crisis meetings to analyse the latest surge, which saw more than 10,000 cases and 78 deaths recorded in France on Tuesday.
The incidence rate of infection has risen to 204 per 100,000 inhabitants in the greater Paris area.
Mask wearing is already mandatory in public places in France, but there have been concerns about people flouting social distancing advice.
Young people have in particular been criticised for gathering in large groups, often without masks, at bars and cafés in the capital.
With more than 460,000 confirmed cases and over 31,400 deaths to date, concern is growing about hospital capacity to handle a second wave.
Admissions have started to rise again after being contained during France’s lockdown between March and May.
Paris is set to be hit with new lockdown measures today that will ban gatherings of more than 10 people, along with alcohol consumption in public places after 8pm
France, Spain and the UK are all seeing spiking Covid cases – but only the UK has imposed new national measures, while France and Spain have used more-relaxed local lockdowns
The developments in France follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson introducing new restrictive measures in Britain.
The new rules mark a major step backwards for the French capital, but are more relaxed than those brought in by this week by the UK – which has banned gatherings larger than six across the country, and ordered all pubs to close by 10pm.
That is despite France having more than double the UK’s daily coronavirus cases, based on a seven-day rolling average.
France, Spain and the UK are bearing the brunt of a second wave of coronavirus cases in Europe, which comes after countries across the continent eased lockdown.
Until this week, all three countries had been dealing with problem using local lockdowns, targeted at areas where cases were rising fastest.
But on Tuesday the UK suddenly broke ranks with a raft of new nationwide measures, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said will last for the next six months.
In addition to cutting the size of gatherings and closing pubs early, he also urged workers to return to working from home – despite an earlier drive to get people back into offices – and banned indoor team sports.
He also increased fines for rule-breakers, and made the army available to help police enforce the measures.
That is not the case in Spain or France, where both countries have resisted imposing new nation-wide measures on focused on local lockdowns.
Parts of Madrid have been plunged back into full lockdown as coroanvirus cases in Spain have soared, but most of the city is still allowed to move around freely
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted the new nationwide measures will need to remain in in place for the next six months to keep infections down over winter
In Spain, parts of Madrid with rapidly rising infections have been thrown back into full lockdown, with authorities calling on the army to help enforce the rules.
The remaining 6.6million residents have been encouraged to say indoors, though are not required to do so – yet. New measures are due to be announced next week.
Meanwhile Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, has also announced bans on gatherings larger than six people.
Spain saw 11,300 new cases of coroanvirus on Tuesday this week, based on a rolling seven-day average.
In France, the cities of Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Nice had all already been hit with tougher new lockdown measures, though country-wide restrictions have remained the same.
Measures include no drinking in public places after 8pm, all bars to close by midnight, and the size of gatherings cut.
Masks are already compulsory across France in all indoor spaces, though many cities have made them compulsory outdoors as well.
France reported 10,155 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, based on a seven-day rolling average. The figure for the UK was 3,928.