Coronavirus: France’s latest local measures shut down bars and restaurants in Marseille

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Bars and restaurants in the French port city of Marseille and neighboring Aix en Provence closed Sunday evening as part of local measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.Renaud Muselier, the president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, which includes Marseille, announced the closures on Sunday, adding that they were to remain in force for two weeks.

The island of Guadeloupe has also seen bars and restaurants close their doors.

It came after the French central government tightened measures in eleven French cities, including Paris, where bars are due to close at 10 p.m. Monday.

Infections and hospitalizations in these areas are on the rise, but infection rates per 100,000 inhabitants remain lower than those in Marseille and Guadeloupe.

The measures encountered some local resistance. Crowds protested outside a Marseille courthouse on Friday and some business leaders threatened to defy the closure order.

In Paris, restaurateurs, owners of bars and nightclubs, as well as representatives of the hotel and restaurant sectors, also gathered to demonstrate against the tightening of the directives.

One of France’s leading medical figures on Sunday warned the country could see a COVID-19 surge spanning months, which could overwhelm its healthcare system.

He added that new warnings during the week from Health Minister Olivier Veran did not go far enough.

“The second wave is coming faster than we thought,” said Patrick Bouet, head of the National Council of the Order of Physicians, to the French weekly Journal du Dimanche.

“He (Veran) did not say that in three to four weeks, if nothing changes, France will be facing a generalized epidemic throughout its territory, for several long months of autumn and winter,” said Bouet.

France reported more than 16,000 new infections on Thursday and more than 10% of the country’s intensive care beds are now occupied by patients with COVID-19.

The country has reported 31,511 virus-related deaths, among the highest in Europe.

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