French authorities may place Paris on maximum virus alert as soon as Monday, potentially requiring all bars to close as the number of COVID-19 cases surges, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday.
The capital and its closest suburbs, comprising nearly seven million people, have already breached the maximum alert thresholds, Veran told a press conference.
“We need a few days to confirm the trends, but if they are confirmed, we’ll have no choice but to put it on maximum alert, from Monday,” he said, adding that could require “a total closure of bars.”
“We’re in a phase where the situation is worsening,” he said.
So far, only the southern city of Marseille and the Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe have been placed on maximum alert, leading to bar, as well as restaurant closures, and a shutdown of public venues such as museums and cinemas unless strict safeguards are in place.
But Veran said five other cities—Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne—could also be placed on maximum alert next week.
Already in Paris, bars have to shut at 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) and gyms have been closed completely.
According to the health authorities, the number of cases per 100,000 residents in Paris has risen to 259.6, above the alert threshold of 250.
Veran also said that 30 to 35 percent of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients in Paris and surrounding communes, again above the critical level of 30 percent.
However, faced with the fury of restaurant owners in Marseille who say the total shutdown is threatening their livelihoods, Veran said officials could ease the restrictions.
“The government is going to study the sanitary proposals and study the rules for restaurants, including in maximum alert zones,” he said.
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