Macron specified that the curfews were to put a temporary end to “parties, moments of conviviality where there are 50 or 60 people, festive evenings because, unfortunately, these are vectors of the acceleration of the disease”.
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Macron announced the curfews, which will take effect from Saturday and run every evening from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning, hours after the government declared a new state of emergency.
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The curfew will last for an initial four weeks, but Macron said the government will seek a two-week extension in parliament, meaning the measures will be in place until December 1.
“It means we won’t go to a restaurant after 9 pm, we won’t go to a friend’s house, we won’t go out to party,” the president said in an interview on national television.
France, like other European countries, is wondering how to slow the spread of the virus and ease the pressure on a again strained health system while maintaining its economy of 2.3 trillion euros (2.71 trillion dollars ) open and protecting jobs.
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On Wednesday it reported 22,591 new cases, the third time in six days the daily COVID tally has passed the 20,000 threshold. The virus has killed more than 32,000 people in France.
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The curfew applies to the Paris region, Marseille, Toulouse, Grenoble, Montpellier, Rouen, Lyon, Saint-Étienne and Lille. The cities have a combined population of around 20 million people.
“We’re going to get through this”
Macron said France faces a worrying situation.
France does not plan a national lockdown to deal with rising coronavirus cases
“We need to adopt more stringent measures in order to fully restore control,” the president continued.
Essential travel during the curfew would still be allowed, Macron said. There would be no restrictions on public transport, and people could still move between regions without restrictions.
Anyone who breaks curfews will be fined 135 euros ($ 159).
Macron said the goal was to reduce the current rate of 20,000 new cases per day to around 3,000 and significantly reduce the burden on intensive care units in hospitals.
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The French government previously declared a state of emergency in March, as hospitalizations caused by the pandemic were nearing their peak.
This time around, the authorities used their extra powers to lock France away except for essential jobs, buying food or getting an hour of daily exercise.
Another national lockdown was not on the cards, Macron said.
“We will get out of this if we stay united,” the president said.
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But the move is likely to anger the already battered French hospitality industry, reeling from the three-month spring jail term and a more recent government-ordered closure of bars in virus outbreaks.
Brewery manager Steve Dervechian said its turnover fell by more than half over the summer and even more during the lockdown. Depriving him of a dinner crowd would be a disaster, he said hours before Macron spoke.
“A curfew will not stop the virus. People gather on public transport, at work, in schools, ”he said. It’s not in places like ours where people gather in large crowds. “