Paris' police chief has laid out extra restrictions that will come into force for the city and its suburbs from Tuesday October 6th and will stay in place for 15 days, when the situation will be reviewed.
The French capital was declared a 'maximum alert' zone on Sunday after Covid-19 cases in the area soared and pressure on hospitals increased – 36 percent of intensive care beds in the Île-de-France region are now occupied with coronavirus patients.
Previously the rules for maximum alert zones involved the complete closure of all bars and restaurants, but the government has now agreed to a compromise where restaurants can stay open.
Paris police chief Didier Lallement said: “The epidemic is developing too quickly. We must slow it down now before the healthcare system is overwhelmed.
“Today, we’re moving into a new level, it proves that we are constantly adapting to the reality of the epidemic.
“These measures are designed to put brakes on the epidemic.”
Here are the new rules for Paris and the petite couronne – the départements of Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Hauts-de-Seine – as outlined by Lallement.
- A ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in public places. The following exceptions to this were listed; demonstrations, funerals, markets and shops, food distribution, Covid-19 testing centres, queues in general and certain professional activities included guided tours
- All bars must close, but restaurants may stay open even after 10pm. Lallement defined restaurants as establishments where the “main activity is serving food.” He said eateries “can remain open on the condition that they follow the strict health protocol” and added that the new protocols would be detailed later on Monday
- The consumption of alcohol in public areas such as parks or on the banks of the Seine is prohibited 10pm. Alcohol cannot be sold in shops after 10pm.
- All parties and gatherings including student and family events and wedding receptions in public spaces are banned
- Dance halls and community halls are closed
- Gyms, sports centres and fitness clubs to remain closed and swimming pools to also close. Outdoor sports pitches and stadiums can remain open but must limit attendance to 1,000 people or 50 percent of their capacity (whichever is larger).
- However swimming pools and community sports centres can remain open for children – either privately or in a group – and after-school sports clubs and activities for children can also remain open. Holiday clubs for the upcoming Toussaint school holidays can stay open.
- Public transport: all those who can should use other means but public transport will continue to run as normal
- University lecture theatres are limiting to 50 percent of their capacity
- Businesses such as shops and retail centres must ensure there is 4 square metres per customer
These rules are in addition to those already in place for Paris, which includes the compulsory wearing of masks in all public spaces – including on the streets – and in workplaces.
The French government is trying to avoid another nationwide lockdown, and has instead put in place a localised alert system which assigns each part of the country an alert level with corresponding restrictions.
Until Sunday the metropole area of Aix-Marseille was the only place on the highest alert level, but it has now been joined by Paris and its suburbs.
Six other cities – Lille, Lyon, Toulouse, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne – have been warned that they too face being bumped to maximum alert if their numbers do not improve.
Aurélien Rousseau, director of the Île-de-France, gave an update on the deteriorating health situation in the capital which has lead to its classification as a maximum alert zone.
- Since September 28th, the greater Paris Île-de-France region has seen more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants
- The rate is above 500 per 100,000 for the 20-30 age group
- There are 3,500 new confirmed cases every day, three and a half times more than the cases at the start of September
- In the region's hospitals, 36 percent of intensive care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patient
- Rates are highest in Paris itself, but the départements of the petite couronne are approaching 200 per 100,000
- Health authorities have identified 203 active clusters in the region, a figure that had doubled since the start of the school year in September
- Of the total clusters, 40 percent originated in schools and universities, 26 percent in professional settings and 10 percent in social and family gatherings. The health minister has previously stated that around 20 percent of total cases can be traced to a cluster
Remote working is strongly recommended for people who can, France's employment minister Elisabeth Borne has reiterated.
Paris et sa petite couronne passent ce soir en zone d’alerte maximale. Dans ces zones, j’invite les employeurs et les salariés à recourir autant que possible au télétravail pour ralentir la circulation du virus. #COVID19 https://t.co/0lNSbixrI8
— Elisabeth BORNE (@Elisabeth_Borne) October 4, 2020
Within the capital cultural centres such as galleries, cinemas, museums and theatres remain open – they are already the subject of strict health protocols.