French local authorities impose early bar closures and restrictions on gatherings as Covid rates rise

French local authorities impose early bar closures and restrictions on gatherings as Covid rates rise
A restaurant owner checks customers' health passes at a restaurant in Ile Rousse. Photo: Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP.
Early bar closures and a maximum of 10 people in public gatherings have been imposed by local authorities in one of France's worst affected areas for Covid, as many other authorities reimpose mask rules.

From Tuesday, July 27th, gatherings of more than 10 people will be prohibited on the beach and in other public areas after 9pm across the Haute-Corse département, which covers the northern half of the island of Corsica.

It will also be necessary to wear a mask in busy outdoor areas in the following towns: Bastia, Corte, Calvi, Ile-Rousse, Calenzana and Saint-Florent. This was already the case in the Balagne area.

Further restrictions will come into effect on August 1st, the Préfet François Ravier announced during a press conference on Monday. From that date, bars and restaurants will have to close at midnight, and events such as weddings where more than 50 people gather will have to be declared at the préfecture.

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“It was these types of festive family events which were responsible, at least in the beginning in Balagne, for the appearence of clusters,” Ravier said.

Corsica has been particularly hard hit by the fourth wave of Covid-19 which has begun to emerge in France. The incidence rate in Haute-Corse is currently 699 for 100,000 inhabitants – the second highest rate in France after the French Caribbean island of Martinique, and well above the alert level of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The popular tourist destination is one of a number of coastal areas which have seen a more dramatic increase in case numbers than other parts of France.

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“We are deeply worried knowing that during the summer, generally speaking, hospitals are already put under strain as the population is multiplied by three or four,” Ravier said.

But local authorities are not currently considering implementing a curfew, the prefect added.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said last week that it may be necessary to introduce more “braking measures” in areas that have high case numbers, but that it would be up to local authorities to take those decisions.

Bars and restaurants are already made to close at 11 pm in the south-western département of Pyrénées-Orientale. In Haute-Corse itself, the measure has been in place since July 14th for 37 communes.

A number of areas have also reintroduced mandatory outdoors mask-wearing: you can find the full list HERE.

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