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World Paris Restaurants May Close Again With France Dogged by Virus

22:06  01 october  2020
22:06  01 october  2020 Source:   bloomberg.com

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(Bloomberg) -- Paris may have to close bars and restaurants again to stem the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

a person standing in front of a building: A waiter wearing a protective face mask carries terrace tables during closing time at Restaurant Les Carrieres as new Covid-19 restrictions come into force, closing bars and restaurants early, in Paris, France, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is seeking to ease tension after the first significant tightening of restrictions on French daily life since the end of the lockdown in May. © Bloomberg A waiter wearing a protective face mask carries terrace tables during closing time at Restaurant Les Carrieres as new Covid-19 restrictions come into force, closing bars and restaurants early, in Paris, France, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is seeking to ease tension after the first significant tightening of restrictions on French daily life since the end of the lockdown in May.

Covid-19 is spreading at such a pace that positive tests and the number of ICU patients have climbed past the “maximum alert” level, Veran told reporters Thursday. If the French capital’s trend keeps up, “we have no choice” but to declare Paris and its inner suburbs a maximum-alert zone starting Monday, which would trigger the closing of bars and restaurants, he said.

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The benchmarks for Paris fall under local virus-alert criteria set out last week by President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which says it doesn’t want a second nationwide lockdown. France’s virus cases increased the most in Europe over the past two months and monthly virus-related deaths tripled in September.

“For several weeks now, we’ve been in a phase of a worsening of virus circulation, which is putting pressure on our health-care system,” Veran said.

France’s seven-day rolling average of cases fell on Thursday to 11,467, the lowest in more than a week, with 13,970 new infections reported.

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Local lawmakers are already pushing back against government measures, which mark the first significant tightening of restrictions on public life since the lockdown ended in May. While an administrative court in Marseille on Wednesday upheld an order to close restaurants and bars for 15 days, a court in Rennes suspended a decree to shut sports halls and gyms.

‘Deceiving You’

Marseille, France’s second city, is showing sign of improvement after being placed on maximum virus alert last a week ago, Veran said. Indicators tracked by health authorities are also improving in Nice and Bordeaux, while deteriorating in five major cities including Lyon and Toulouse, he said.

Macron cast doubt on precise predictions for the timing of a Covid-19 vaccine, reiterating that France has to live with the virus.

“I can’t give you an end date for the virus — impossible,” he told a business group in Paris on Thursday.

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“People who tell you we’ll have a vaccine next March or April, in all honesty, are deceiving you,” Macron said. “We will undoubtedly live with the virus for a long time.”

Macron said France will have to take locally-adapted decisions to keep the virus in check in regions facing a resurgence. In neighboring Spain, the government ordered additional restrictions on movement and gatherings in Madrid and possibly elsewhere, while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will seek an extension of emergency powers granted to combat the pandemic.

The government’s alert criteria are “extremely technocratic,” Frederic Pechenard, vice-president of the Ile-de-France region, said on LCI TV. He said the share of positive tests may be skewed by focusing on people with symptoms and contact cases, whereas earlier large-scale testing of people who weren’t ill resulted in a relatively low incidence rate.

Rooftop Parties

Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet said the government’s order for bars to close at 10 p.m. in France’s third-biggest city “doesn’t seem appropriate.” After talks with Prime Minister Jean Castex, he called for an easing of closing times in exchange for “greater rigor” on preventive measures.

Marseille “made mistakes” when it allowed large parties over the summer, especially on rooftops, Mayor Michele Rubirola said in an interview with Le Monde published on Thursday. “We may not have realized what was going on, because we observed a decrease in viral spread.”

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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