France has imposed a curfew Paris and eight other cities from Saturday.
“We have to act. We need to curb the spread of the virus, ”President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised appearance, announcing a 9:00 to 6:00 curfew that will remain in effect for at least four weeks, except for essential reasons.
“We will have to face this virus at least until the summer of 2021,”
Other large French cities such as Lyon, the Mediterranean port of Marseille and the southwest of Toulouse will similarly impose a curfew, with around 20 million people affected in all, out of a total population of around 67 million.
Macron said new daily coronavirus cases need to be reduced to “3,000 or 5,000” from current levels, which have reached nearly 27,000.
“We won’t leave the restaurant after 9pm,” Macron said. “We won’t be celebrating with friends because we know that’s where the risk of contamination is greatest.”
Minutes before Macron’s announcement, his government said it would extend the state of health emergency, giving officials more powers to impose new measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.
He urged people to limit meetings in their homes to six people and to wear protective masks on such occasions.
Anyone who was outdoors during the curfew without special permission would face a fine of 135 euros ($ 159), and more than 10 times that amount for repeat offenders, Macron said.
Macron said 32% of France’s 5,000 intensive care places are currently occupied by coronavirus patients, a percentage that needed to be reduced to “10-15% at most.”