The French Government may put Paris on the highest level of COVID-19 alert as soon as Monday. Health minister Olivier Véran said a move of forced closure of bars, restaurants and restrictions of public life would likely be imposed.
If there is no improvement in the virus spread over the next couple of days, the government is to introduce and to set new measures. The measures include the closure of bars and restaurants, an action already taken in Marseille and Aix. Both cities, Marseille and Aix are currently designated at “maximum alert,” the second to last alert before the declaration of formal state’s emergency.
Véran said the wider Paris region had already passed all three key COVID-19 indicators for being placed on the highest level of alert. The city has 263 new coronavirus cases daily per 100,000 people, 105 new cases daily per 100,000 people above the age of 65, and between 30-35% of intensive care units now treat COVID-19 patients.
Authorities will make further confirmation over the weekend for the indicators, Véran said.
Nearly 14,000 new COVID-19 cases are recorded in 24 hours along with 63 deaths. There were between 800 and 1200 new reported cases daily as of last week in Paris. For weeks, the number of hospitalized people with the virus has been rising.
In Véran’s speech, he made a statement that France was in a “worsening phase” and the virus was spreading very fast throughout the country. He also advised the people to reduce their contacts across the country in hope of improving the situation from getting worse in major cities.
Arnaud Pasteur, an epidemiologist, said, “It is still possible to have an impact on the trajectory of the virus.”
According to the authorities, there will be an additional of five cities in France that could move to highest level of COVID-19 alert. Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse are cities in which the situation does not improve.
Prime Minister Jean Castex had discussed new measures that would likely come into effect with mayors and metropolis presidents in those cities. But local authorities were not in favour of restaurants and bars closure.
A court in Marseille rejected an appeal to reopen bars in the city where many protested when new measures were introduced. Protests and a legal challenge were prompted in Marseille for two weeks from last Monday against a government order to close bars and restaurants, but failed. Restaurateurs are planning a protest on Friday in Paris.
Véran said French government would consult with the restaurant sector in order to keep them open in maximum alert areas. He added that stricter sanitary measures would be issued.
Cities with signs of improvements are Marseille, Nice and Bordeaux.
Véran explained there was no overwhelming of coronavirus patients influx that would cause short-term risk of hospitals throughout the country.
He said, “The measures that we take today will have an effect in 15 days. You shouldn’t be discouraged.”
He added, “Your efforts should pay off and will pay off.”
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Prepared by: Florin Hoo