Paris could face bar closures as coronavirus cases hit new daily record

Bar closures in the French capital are "not off the table" to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19, the government said on Wednesday, as France recorded 5,429 new cases of the virus - a tally unseen since mid April.

Paris could face bar closures as coronavirus cases hit new daily record
Parisians have enjoyed extended terraces this summer. Photo: AFP

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said “nothing was off the table” when taking steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus, hinting that local authorities in Paris soon could announce an early closure of bars similar to that of Marseille.

The southern port city Marseille on Tuesday enforced a blanket rule on mask-wearing everywhere outside in the city and the closing of all bars and restaurants at 11pm. 

“This could obviously be the case for Paris in the coming days, nothing is off the table,” Attal said during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“The circulation of the virus is high in the capital and in a number of départments in the inner suburbs,” Attal said, adding that “Préfets and elected officials are in constant contact to prepare possible new measures.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who on Tuesday appealed to the “sense of responsibility” of the French, will hold a press conference on Thursday morning where he could announce new measures.

Paris and Marseille are both designated “red zones”, areas that have seen an increase in the number of new coronavirus cases high enough for the public health agency to put them on the highest level of alert.

Ten of France's 96 mainland départements have so far been labelled “red zones”, which means local authorities have extended powers to take restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus, including closing down bars, restaurants and restricting access to public transport.

READ ALSO What does it mean if my département is a red zone?

Paris and its inner suburbs were badly hit during the fist wave of cases in March and April, recording high levels of deaths and near saturation of hospital facilities. Since then authorities have been carefully monitoring numbers in the Île-de-France region, worried about cases flaring again in the densely-packed city.

French health authorities consider any area exceeding the threshold of 10 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous seven days as under “observation”.

More than 20 cases sees an area bumped up to a “moderate” risk level while 50 plus cases per 100,000 makes it a “red zone” or elevated level.

New record of cases

France on Wednesday recorded another record number of daily coronavirus cases, with public health agency Santé Publique France confirming 5,429 new cases 24 hours.
This was a tally unseen since mid April when France was on lockdown and the pandemic reached its peak in the country. It marked a continuation of the rapid spread of the virus, with the daily recordings of cases having risen from around 500 per day to over 5,000 per day in weeks.
Hospital numbers remain relatively low, with 4,600 patients hospitalised for the virus, 410 of these in intensive care units (compared to over 7,000 mid April).

The rate of positive tests has increased to 3.7 percent, up from 3.6 percent earlier this week.
Twenty-seven new coronavirus clusters were identified the past 24 hours, bringing the total number up to 340.
A cluster occurs when at least three coronavirus cases are confirmed or likely to be confirmed in the same place over a period of seven days, according Santé Publique France.
France has recorded a total of 30,544 Covid-19 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic, 22 of which occurred over the last 24 hours. 

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France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

Injuries and even deaths while skiing in France have seen a sharp rise in recent years - leading the French government to create a new ski safety campaign.

France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

The early part of the ski season in France was dominated by headlines over the lack of snow in popular mountain resorts – but, now that climatic conditions have started to improve for skiers and there is at least some snow, the winter sports season is in gearing up to hit full swing.

READ ALSO Snow latest: Have France’s ski resorts reopened?

Heading into the winter holiday season – French schools in ‘Zone A’ break up for two weeks on February 4th, followed on February 11th by schools in ‘Zone B’, while schools in Zone C finish for the vacation on February 18th – the government has launched an awareness campaign highlighting skiing good practice and how to avoid accidents.

READ ALSO What can I do if I’ve booked a French skiing holiday and there’s no snow?

The Pratiquer l’hiver campaign has advice, posters and videos highlighting safety on the slopes, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents on France’s mountains – where, every year, between 42,000 and 51,000 people have to be rescued, according to the Système National d’Observation de la Sécurité en Montagne (SNOSM)

The campaign, with information in a number of languages including English, covers:

  • on-piste and off-piste safety advice (signalling, avalanche risks, freestyle areas, snowshoes, ski touring, etc.);
  • Help and instructions for children explained in a fun and educational way (educational games, games of the 7 families to be cut out, safety quizzes, advice sheets for sledding, skiing, prevention clips, etc.);
  • physical preparation (warm up before exercise, prepare your muscles and stretch well, also how to adapt the choice of pistes and the speed to your physical condition);
  • equipment and safety (helmet, goggles, sunscreen, etc.);
  • marking and signalling on the slopes (opening and marking of green, blue, red and black slopes, off-piste).

There are 220 ski resorts in France, the world’s second largest ski area, covering more than 26,500 hectares of land, across 30 departements.

In the 2021/22 ski season, totalling 53.9 million ‘ski days’, according to SNOSM, emergency services made 49,622 interventions in France’s ski areas, and 45,985 victims were treated for injuries.

The results show an increase in the number of interventions by ski safety services – a rise of 13 percent compared to the average of the five years prior to the pandemic – and the number of injured, up 8 percent. 

A few incidents on the slopes made the headlines at the time, including the five-year-old British girl who died after an adult skier crashed into her in the Alpine resort of Flaine, and the French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who died at the age of 37 after an accident while skiing in La Rosière, Savoie.

In total, 12 people died as a result of skiing incidents in France in the 2021/22 ski season. Three died following collisions between skiers, two after hitting an obstacle, and seven as a result of a fall or solo injuries. SNOSM also reported “a significant number of non-traumatic deaths, mostly due to cardiac problems” on France’s ski slopes.

The injuries due to solo falls – which represent 95 percent of all injuries –  on the ski slopes increased 2 percent compared to winter 2018/2019. Collisions between users fell, however (4.8 percent against . 5.6 percent) as did collisions between skiers and other people, and obstacles (0.7 percent compared to 0.85 percent).

The number of fatalities caused by avalanches, however, is at a historic low over the period 2011 to 2021, in part because of a relative lack of snow – leading to a drop in the number of avalanches and fewer people going off-piste, while awareness campaigns are hitting their mark, according to SNOSM.