'We'll end up drinking like the Brits and eating like Americans' - French react to curfew announcement

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'We'll end up drinking like the Brits and eating like Americans' - French react to curfew announcement
Leisurely dinners or late night drinks in the café will not be possible from Saturday.Photo: AFP

Too far or not far enough? When French President Emmanuel Macron announced a 9pm curfew for the cities worst hit by Covid-19 the reaction was swift.


"We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," Macron said during a live sent interview on Wednesday evening, where he announced an imminent curfew in nine of the hardest-hit areas of the country.

It was the first time since lockdown in March that the president announced sweeping new measures to restrict social gatherings in France.

But after weeks of spiralling Covid-19 rates that are now threatening to overwhelm hospitals in several cities including Paris, the president said it was time to stop playing around.

"We won't be leaving the restaurant after 9pm," he said. "We won't be partying with friends because we know that that's where the infection risk is greatest."

From Saturday, a curfew from 9pm to 6am will be in place in nine areas - the greater Paris Île-de-France region and the metropole areas of Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Grenoble, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne, Rouen and Toulouse.

READ ALSO What you need to know about France new nighttime curfew rules


Although expected, the announcement of the curfew provoked swift backlash from critics and on Thursday morning #GeorgeOrwell - the author of the world-famous fictional account of a society watched by an omnipresent Big Brother - was trending on Twitter.

Many immediately began joking that the curfew would force them to adopt British or American habits.


"So we've stopped kissing and now we're going to eat at 6pm," one person wrote on Twitter.

"It's not a Chinese virus, it's an English virus," he said.


The Local headed out to ask some Parisians for their reaction to the new rules, which come as infection rates soar and the boss of the city's hospitals has issued a stark warning

Leo, a 23-year-old school high school supervisor, said: 

"I think the curfew is a stupid idea. People still take public transport to go to work, and young people go to classes.

"I wanted to organise a party next week, so I'm quite disappointed. Apart from that, the curfew will not change my everyday life but I do not approve of it."

But an overwhelming majority of those who spoke to us were supportive of the new rules.

Emmanuel, 40, said: "We cannot go out to the cinema or the theatre anymore, but it is necessary to contain the Covid wave. When people gather in a private sphere, interactions are much closer than at work and people are less careful.

"Our lifestyle here is very different, we have dinner quite late and I do not think it will change. It is a temporary bad time, especially for people who have trouble with staying home. Some will maybe go to the restaurant a bit earlier!’’


Jean-Louis, 51, said: "I don’t know if a curfew is justified, we will see how it turns out. It has been done in other countries, so why not here as well?

"In any case, measures have to be taken, so I think a curfew is a good idea. It will not change my habits so much, despite dinners or evenings with friends. We do not know how long the curfew will last, but of course it is temporary."


Blaise, a 21-year-old student, said: "’I go home from classes way before 9pm, so my life won’t be changed so much. Considering what is happening in Paris, the curfew is justified.

"I know many people in business or medical studies who keep on having parties. Parties are a cool thing to do when you’re a student, but a curfew for one or two months is really important.

"Of course the virus will keep on spreading during the day as well as after 9pm. But the curfew’s aim is mainly to avoid huge student events with 100 or 200 people for example."

Elio, 18 and also a student, said: "It's a very good idea and a completely justified one, especially because young people are the ones who go out the most in the evening.

"There is no need be dramatic about the curfew, which is completely doable. It will prevent people from going out during week-ends, but it’s nothing compared to the lockdown.

"If people do not respect the curfew, we shouldn’t be surprised if there is another lockdown.”

A poll conducted by the Harris Institute for French media LCI found that 73 percent of French people were in favour of the introduction of the curfew.

And in a rare favourable review for the president - 60 percent of people found Emmanuel Macron convincing in his TV address to the nation on Wednesday night.


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Anonymous 2020/10/15 21:24
Young peoples social gatherings I think are the greatest spreaders. They probably remain asymptomatic and so won't get tested. They pass it on unbeknown to vulnerable people. We can't blame them, it's natural. This is a sensible move to reduce the infection rate a bit, we need to get it down for hospitals to cope. We can't stop the spread it's just not possible unless you want a very strict six week lockdown.
Anonymous 2020/10/15 17:49
I find it interesting that a lot of people are arguing against the curfew claiming transit, work and schools as as the main transmission points based on the cluster data, but the government keeps pointing out that the clusters represent less than 20% of the total cases and untracked social situations are the key spreader.
Anonymous 2020/10/15 17:08
"I wanted to organise a party next week, so I'm quite disappointed" mission accomplished then.

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