A rapid and worrying increase in corona infections in Paris has clear restrictions: bars, swimming pools and sports clubs are closing. The city is doing everything it can to prevent a second lockdown.
The first coffee in the morning and the last glass of wine in the evening – bars in Paris are centers of social life. From this Tuesday on, however, they will have to close for 14 days in order to contain a new wave of corona infections.
The French capital is calling the highest level of alert and is trying to prevent another total lockdown with partial restrictions on public life.
A braking maneuver
The police prefect of Paris called the new rules a “braking maneuver”, the epidemic is currently spreading too quickly. As a result, a series of new restrictions will come in from Tuesday, where the bar closings will probably be most noticeable for most Parisians.
The catering association is already worried about long-term survival: The short-time working, which the government has now extended until the end of the year, cannot absorb everything, there will probably be job losses.
Student parties and alcohol sales prohibited
The sale of alcohol and music in public places after 10 p.m. is also prohibited. Student parties and meetings of more than ten people in public are also prohibited. Weddings in churches and registry offices with up to 30 people are allowed, but the subsequent celebration, for example in a restaurant, is not. Sports halls, swimming pools and fitness clubs remain closed, except for schools.
Universities must limit student access to 50 percent of their capacity, which means that the large lecture halls may only be half occupied.
Similar restrictions also apply to outdoor sports facilities and shopping centers: There, only one visitor is to be allowed in an area of four square meters, which means that the inspectors will return to the entrances that restrict access.
Public transport will continue to operate in the greater Paris area, but the Minister of Labor has called for all of France to work from home as much as possible in the country’s red zones.
Only six people left at one table in restaurants
However, the restaurants are excluded from the new partial closure of public life. However, they should record the addresses of their visitors in order to facilitate the tracking of chains of infection.
Only six people are allowed to sit at a table and those who do not eat have to wear a mask. We will see how well this works with the individualistic French, who are increasingly revolting against the corona rules.
Total stop led to a 14 percent economic slump
The regulation for the catering trade is considered a compromise because a second closure of the restaurants at the end of September, such as in Marseille, led to protests and civil disobedience. Incidentally, the city now wants to break away from the centralized regulations from Paris and set up its own authority to combat the epidemic.
The new restrictions should be checked every fortnight to match them with the increase in infections. The hope is to avoid more drastic closings with such partial measures. The total halt of the French economy this spring had led to a collapse in economic output of almost 14 percent.
Most recently, it had almost risen to pre-Covid levels and there was hope for a significant recovery. The fear of a second lockdown is all the greater now. The more parts of the economy have to be strangled again, the more lasting the damage will be, economists fear.
Great fear of a second lockdown
The Mayoress of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, hopes, despite the new restrictions, that “life in the city can go on, economically, culturally and socially”. Theaters, cinemas and museums remain open, albeit with a limited number of visitors.
However, the capital is already suffering massively from the Corona crisis, says Hidalgo: “The economic situation has deteriorated a lot, because we are a city that depends on international visitors.”
Paris is losing around seven billion euros in revenue
Paris recorded 16 million fewer tourists than normal this summer. The excursion boats on the Seine were hardly in demand, the famous department stores and luxury boutiques remained empty. The capital has lost around 7 billion euros in revenue, and the countrywide loss of up to 40 billion euros in the coffers due to the collapse of tourism.
The new restrictions have now been triggered by a rapid increase in the number of infections in the greater Paris area. The number of infections had risen to over 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and currently 36 percent of the intensive care beds in hospitals are already occupied.
203 known sources of infection across Paris
“We have 3,500 new cases in the greater Paris area every day,” and there are 203 known sources of infection, for example in companies or old people’s homes, said Aurélien Rousseau, head of the local health authority, in a press conference with the mayor and the police chief.
Although there are now enough ventilators, protective clothing and medication to fight against a second wave of infection, there is a lack of staff: “The pressure on medical staff is very high,” explains Rousseau. In the next two weeks we will see whether the intensive care units would be utilized to 50 percent again, currently the numbers are rising continuously.
There are also problems again in the old people’s homes in the region, every sixth of which reports new corona cases. Nevertheless, the draconian ban on visitors from spring is not to be reintroduced.
Parisians should not be incapacitated again
Home managers and families protested against this and complained about the loneliness of the home residents. Now at least up to two family members should be admitted after registration.
Like other countries in Europe, France is trying to strike a balance between a dangerous increase in infections, combined with overloading the health system, and containing the economic damage.
In the spring, Paris issued extremely rigid rules and largely incapacitated its citizens. Now it will show how much willingness the French are still willing to cooperate with the authorities and whether the half-braking of public life that began this Tuesday is sufficient to contain the epidemic.
Author: Barbara Wesel
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