Paris streets empty as COVID-19 curfew goes into effect

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A man rides a bicycle in a deserted street in Paris, December 15, 2020, as a new curfew is put in place in France to prevent a third wave of coronavirus infections.

ALAIN JOCARD / AFP / Getty Images

Shops in the center of the French capital closed early and shoppers rushed home to adhere to a new 8:00 p.m. curfew that went into effect on Tuesday to try to avoid another spike in COVID infections. 19.

“I completely lost track of time and didn’t realize it was so late,” said Jun, a 40-year-old Paris resident, who was in the Opera district just before the curfew. “I’m going home.”

Around the generally bustling shopping district, the storefronts were dark, and among the few people on the streets, most were heading for the metro station.

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Tuesday brought new freedoms for people in France as it was the end of a stay at home order. This meant that around the clock people could only venture out for a limited time and for essential trips, shopping or exercise.

But that was replaced by a nighttime curfew. From 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., people can only go out for work, official business or medical reasons. Anyone who breaks the curfew is liable to a fine of 135 euros.

Officials have warned they will strictly enforce the new rules. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin joined a police patrol in Yvelines, west of Paris, on Tuesday evening to check that people were complying.

“The government has decided to be particularly harsh on illegal parties,” the minister said.

Infection rates in France have fallen sharply since the peak of the second wave last month. But scientists are warning of the risk of a third wave of infection if people let their guard down during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

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