France tightens local restrictions

As single-day Covid-19 cases have remained around 10,000 for more than a week in France, restrictions in the “red zones” across the country will be tightened, according to Health Minister Olivier Veran.

On Wednesday, the country reported 13,072 new Covid-19 cases, which took the overall tally to 481,141, Xinhua news agency reported.

The death toll increased to 31,459 after the emergence of 38 new fatalities, according to official figures.

“The virus spreading accelerates sharply. The situation continues to deteriorate… If we do not take measures quickly, we risk reaching critical thresholds in some regions,” Veran said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Taking the great Paris region as an example, the Minister said that at the current rate, 40 per cent of regional resuscitation capacities will be used for Covid-19 cases by October 10 before rising to 60 per cent by October 25 and 85 per cent by November 11.

Since September 19, 53 departments in the country, where the Covid-19 incidence or the number of positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a week is greater than 50, have been classified as “zone of alert” or “red zone”.

“In all of these territories, parties, weddings and associative events must be held in small groups, which means less than 30 people,” said the Minister, adding that local authorities can take all the necessary measures that they consider relevant.

In “zone of enhanced alert” where the incidence is above 150, now including Paris and eight other cities, starting from Saturday, bars will close at 10 p.m., limit of attendance to public events will be cut from 5,000 to 1,000 and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in public spaces such as beaches and parks, said the minister.

In Marseille and Guadeloupe, now “zone of maximum alert” as the incidence there has gone above 250, in addition to the measures envisaged for the enhanced alert zones, bars and restaurants will be totally closed, announced the minister.

“If, despite these measures, the health situation worsens further, these areas could go into a state of health emergency,” he said.

In March, France went into a two-month national lockdown after the government declared state of health emergency.

“We are doing everything to avoid confinement measures,” said Veran.

“We are not in the situation of last spring. We do not envision widespread re-confinement and we do not want re-confinement in any form.”