France Declares State of Emergency Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases
Paris and eight other metro areas in France will be under a curfew starting Friday.
France declared a public health state of emergency on Wednesday due to a second outbreak of COVID-19 spanning across multiple areas of the country.
Effective Friday at midnight, the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas — totaling a third of the country's population— will face nightly curfews for at least four weeks.
“The COVID-19 epidemic constitutes a public health disaster which, by its character and its severity, puts at risk the health of the population,” the government said in a statement, Reuters reported. “It justifies the declaration of a state of emergency so that measures can be adopted ... which are strictly proportionate to the public health risks.”
A nightly curfew is in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Ile-de-France (the Paris region) and the metropolitan areas around Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint Etienne and Toulouse.
Anyone caught breaking the curfew will be fined about $160 (€135).
The state of emergency also limits gatherings to a maximum of six people. Public events, including weddings, are also banned at this time.
More than 9,100 people are currently hospitalized in France for COVID-19. It is the highest that number has been since late June, according to Reuters. Officials fear that the growing trend of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the hospital system.
Earlier this month, Paris closed all bars and ordered restaurants to follow strict new health procedures, including taking contact information from customers and closing by 10 p.m. In addition to bars, public places like gyms, pools, and dance halls temporarily closed. Employees were encouraged “now more than ever” to work from home when possible.
Restaurants and bars in Marseille, France’s second-largest city, were also ordered to temporarily close to stem the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants were permitted to reopen under the same new strict protocol enacted in Paris. Public venues like museums, theatres, and cinemas must also close if they do not comply with the new health protection policies.
France reported a total of 22,591 new daily cases on Wednesday.
The French capital has responded to new social distancing measures in unique ways, like hosting open-air cinema nights on its canals and gradually reopening major attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre
France declared a state of emergency in March at the height of the pandemic. It was lifted in July when the number of cases subsided.