Paris announces nighttime closures in new crackdown on bars

Restaurants and bars offering takeout services will, along with shops that sell alcohol, must close at 10pm starting November 6th, according to new rules.

Paris announces nighttime closures in new crackdown on bars
Illustration photo: A police car is seen, on October 17, 2020 in Paris, at the start of a curfew implemented to fight the spread of the Covid-19. AFP

“I wouldn't call it a curfew, as it does not concern all places in the city,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told BFMTV on Thursday morning.

Hidalgo made the announcement without revealing the full details of the new rules, merely saying they  would target “places where there had been problems” in particular with crowds of people gathering outside bars that were offering a takeaway service.


The details were specified in a decree published by the Paris police later on Thursday.

Starting November 6th, all establishments selling takeaway and alcoholic beverages would have to close their doors completely between 10pm and 6am. Shops selling alcohol were also included in the new rules.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages out in public would also be banned between those times, according to the decree.


The decision to toughen the rules came following reports that the second lockdown was less rigorously respected than the one this spring. 

Police in Paris performed 100,000 stops over the weekend and handed out 14,000 fines, according to government spokesperson Gabriel Attal.

Attal announced the plans to impose an evening curfew across the capital, but the prime minister's office Matignon promptly denied that any such decision had been made.

READ ALSO France could reinstate nighttime curfew in Paris region on top of new lockdown 

Since the end of the first lockdown spring, the government has taken heat from several local authorities for their  'top-down' approach, and have been accused of failing to properly consult with mayors before making decisions.

The current decision in Paris seems to have been a compromise between local and national authorities.

New announcement to come

Health Minister Olivier Véran was due to give an update on the crisis later on Thursday, and media reports speculated he would unveil even tougher restrictions as hospitals kept filling up.

Hidalgo described a “very worrying situation” in the capital and its suburbs, and said she had proposed that extra space be made available for school classes to ensure adequate social distancing for pupils and staff.

Libraries, theatres and gymnasiums emptied by the new lockdown could be put to use, she said.


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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.