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Officials in Marseille have reacted furiously to the French government’s decision to order all bars and restaurants in the city to close from this weekend, with officials branding the decision “collective punishment”.
The health minister, Olivier Véran, said the Mediterranean city had been designated a “maximum alert” zone because the worrying rise in Covid-19 infections threatened to overwhelm local hospitals.
The closure order also covers nearby Aix-en-Provence and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.
Local officials claimed the decision had been taken without consultation and was a “catastrophe”.
Michèle Rubirola, the city’s mayor, tweeted: “I learn with astonishment and anger a decision on which the Marseille mairie was not consulted. Nothing about the health situation justifies this announcement. I can’t accept that the people of Marseille become victims of political decisions nobody understands.”
Marseille City Hall has demanded the closure order –effective fromSaturday – be delayed for 10 days.
Renaud Muselier, the president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, described the move as a “semi-lockdown” and said “this collective punishment is extremely hard on the economy of our areas”.
Martine Vassal, the president of the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolitan authority said the decision was a “real economic catastrophe”.
Bernard Marty, president of the hotel industry union, called an emergency meeting of members immediately after the minister’s announcement.
“Nobody warned us,” he said. “I have no confidence in this government. Does it realise that it’s not only the restaurants, but the food producers, the suppliers … a whole chain it is in the process of killing. The only thing I can tell is that we won’t go down without a fight.”
Officials in Paris also reacted angrily to Véran’s announcement that bars in the capital – along with those in Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, Lille, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne, Rennes, Rouen, Grenoble and Montpellier all declared zones of “heightened alert” – must close by 10pm. The minister said earlier closures could be ordered if infections rose.
The Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who has allowed the city’s bars and restaurants to set up terraces on pavements and parking areas, said the new rules were “very restrictive” and taken “without consultation”.
“I have expressed my disagreement with these measures,” Hidalgo said.
In reality, the closure order as outlined by Véran is likely to affect very few establishments in Paris as most bars also serve snacks and food.
However, the minister said details were still being decided with local administrators, known as prefects.
Véran said the government wished at all costs to avoid a general lockdown after the national strict two-month confinement between March and May and the measures were necessary to “break the virus chain” and slow its spread.
Areas are classed as “alert” if there is an infection rate of up to 50 cases per 100,000 people, “heightened alert” where there is an infection rate above 150 cases per 100,000 and moderate pressure on hospitals, and “maximum alert” where the infection rate is above 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and where hospital intensive care units have more than 30% of beds used by Covid-19 patients. The final zone is “state of emergency”, where further regulations will be employed; no parts of France are currently in this final zone.
The minister warned that four towns were at risk of going into “heightened alert” if the situation did not improve: Tours, Strasbourg, Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand.
The new zone designations and restrictions will remain in effect for two weeks.
On Wednesday evening, France’s public health authority, Santé Publique France, recorded 13,072 new Covid-19 infections, a record since the start of the pandemic; some of this increase is down to increased testing – France is now carrying out 1m tests a week – but the rate of positive results has risen from 5.1% to 6.2% in a week. The number of hospital and intensive care unit admissions has also risen. There has now been a total of 31,459 deaths attributed to coronavirus in France.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Marseille fury at Paris decree to shut its bars as coronavirus soars | World news