Paris police extend Covid drinking ban to avoid crowds and ramp up weekend checks

Paris police extend Covid drinking ban to avoid crowds and ramp up weekend checks
Paris police issue alcohol checks by the canal Saint-Martin, east in the capital. (Photo by François GUILLOT / AFP
Police in Paris have widened a ban on daytime drinking in the French capital and ramped up patrols for this weekend to prevent large crowds from gathering and risk another Covid flare-up.
The Préfecture de Police on Friday announced further restrictions in the French capital, extending a ban on daytime drinking in public places introduced earlier this week and closing large non-alimentary shops.
The statement from police chief Didier Lallement said:  “The health situation in Paris remains particularly sensitive with an active circulation of the virus and a very high pressure on the hospital system.”

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The new restrictions “aim to slow down the virus’ circulation by avoiding gatherings of people in public places,” the statement read.

Police stepped up patrols last weekend when crowds of people flocked to the capital’s riverbanks, parks and squares and streets to enjoy the suddenly sunny and warm weather.
Earlier this week, the police chief issued a ban on drinking in certain streets from 11am until 6pm, when the nationwide curfew begins. The new statement added further areas to the list of places, including the popular Seine riverbanks and the Canal Saint-Martin.
These are the areas concerned:
  • Rue Rue de Buci in the 6th arrondissement
  • Place de la Contrescarpe in the 5th arrondissement
  • Esplanade des Invalides in the 7th arrondissement
  • In the 9th and 18th arrondissements: Place Lino Ventura, avenue Trudaine, rue des Martyrs, Place du Tertre, rue Marcadet
  • In the 10th arrondissement: canal Saint-Martin, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, cour des Petites-Ecuries
  • Rue du Général Renault and rue du Général Blaise in the 11th arrondissement
  • Place Flora Tristan in the 14th arrondissement
  • All along the Seine riverbanks, on both sides, between the pont des Arts and Pont de Sully, on Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louise
  • In the centre: Place Joachim du Bellay, Fontaine des Innocents, Place du Bourg-Tiburg, Place du marche Saint Catherine, rue des Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais, rue des petits Carreaux.
The ban remains in place until March 21st. Those caught flouting the rules could be subject to a €135 fine.
The police chief also said 4,400 officers would patrol the capital the coming weekend to ensure compliance with the new rules.
“If police find groups where respect of health rules are not guaranteed, in particular by the Seine riverbanks and in parks and gardens, they have been instructed to evacuate them,” the statement said.
Last summer police in Paris also struggled with large groups of people gathering in open spaces in the city. Back then too, authorities banned drinking on the banks of the Seine and the Canal Saint-Martin in an attempt to discourage groups.
Under current lockdown rules, Parisians can meet friends outdoors in small groups or in private homes in unlimited groups – although a maximum of six is recommended – before the curfew kicks in at 6pm. 
The police chief asked that people respect the advisory “rule of six”, which is not compulsory, but recommended.
He also ordered all non-food shops measuring more than 10,000 square metres to close, a new measure the prime minister said at the press conference the evening before would apply for all of France’s 23 départements on heightened alert. Previously, the maximum threshold was 20,000 square metres.

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