France dramatically slowed the spread of the coronavirus in the spring with one of Europe’s most draconian lockdowns. But 10 months into the epidemic and with winter drawing in, many people are reluctant to endure another period of confinement.
“It’s unbearable for those who respect the rules to see other French people flouting them,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM TV. “There is an attitude of what will be will be. We need to take all the steps needed to fight the epidemic.”
Attal presented the new curfew as a fait accompli but the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex said a final decision had not been taken.
The matter will be discussed at a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and senior cabinet ministers today (4 November), a government source said.
A Wave of COVID-19 lockdowns and curbs has stirred resistance across Europe even as countries including France and Spain deal with a record number of daily infections and hospitals buckle under the strain of new admissions.
In Paris, one person was becoming infected with COVID-19 every 30 seconds, while a Parisian is admitted to hospital with the disease every 15 minutes, Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio.
Health authorities reported 52,518 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Four seriously ill COVID patients will be airlifted to Vannes, in western France, from Corsica to alleviate pressure on the Mediterranean island’s intensive care units.
France imposed a nightly curfew on two-thirds of its 67 million people in the second half of October but this was lifted when President Emmanuel Macron ordered a second lockdown, albeit less rigid than the first, which took effect on 30 October.
Castex’s office said a renewed curfew for Paris had been proposed by police after it became clear too many people were out late at night and breaching lockdown rules.
The lockdown forced the closure of all non-essential businesses like bars and restaurants, banned private gatherings and saw the return of sworn declarations needed to leave home. Schools remain open.
But some Paris residents have complained privately that neighbours are still hosting house-parties in defiance of the rules, while some parents say friends are still organising playdates for their children.
One Uber driver on the dawn shift in Paris said he was still picking up people who had clearly been at all-night parties.
“They’re obviously youngsters out partying,” he said.