A day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nighttime curfew in Paris and eight other cities, the government detailed tough new measures to stem a Covid-19 surge, including a nationwide ban on private festivities such as weddings.
Shops and public places will be shut in nine Covid-19 hot-spots after 9 pm local time starting this weekend, said French Prime Minister Jean Castex, adding that there were exemptions for establishments providing emergency services such as healthcare or restaurants doing deliveries.
Residents in the Paris region, Lille, Grenoble, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne will be able to go outdoors after curfew for work or pre-booked journeys if they have relevant authorization documents.
Authorization forms will be available online or can be downloaded on mobile apps. In addition to curfews in the nine Covid-19 hot-spots, nighttime festivities have been banned across France.
However, all private parties, such as weddings or student parties, which are held in party halls, multipurpose rooms or any other institution receiving the public will be prohibited.
The curfews aim to reduce gatherings in public places and private venues with people urged to limit gatherings to a maximum of six people.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said 12,000 police officers would be deployed to enforce curfews in these areas. However police would not enforce the “rule of six” on private gatherings.
Offenders would be fined 135 euros the first time they broke the curfew. The fine would increase to 3,750 euros after the third infraction with offenders facing a maximum of six months imprisonment.
At the press conference, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire promised only 1 billion euros of additional support to help French companies cushion the impact of the nightly curfews.
Le Maire also said that companies in the beleaguered hospitality and tourism industry would be exempt from social charges if their revenues crashed by more than 50% as a result of the curfews.
The French finance minister also said he was asking banks to delay interest payments on state-guaranteed loans to struggling companies in the hotel, restaurant and events industries.
The curfews are Macron’s response to a dilemma facing countries across Europe: how to keep the economy running and protect jobs while slowing the spread of infections and taking pressure off the creaking healthcare systems.
France 24 / ABC Flash Point News 2020.