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Paris is to be placed on maximum Covid-19 alert, meaning bars will be forced to close for two weeks from Tuesday and restaurants will have to put in place new sanitary protocols to stay open, the prime minister has ordered.
Jean Castex’s office said there had been no improvement in the Paris region since the French capital passed all three of the government’s criteria for being put on the highest level of alert mid last week.
The move comes as Europe’s second wave gathers pace, with Ireland’s health officials reportedly about to recommend a return to full lockdown and leaked documents showing plans for a stricter traffic-light system in England.
A statement from Castex’s office said working from home should be prioritised “now more than ever” in the Paris area and university lecture halls should be no more than half full.
The reinforced restrictions will take effect from Tuesday.
“These measures, indispensable in the fight to curb the virus’ spread, will apply to Paris and the three departments immediately surrounding it, for a duration of two weeks,” the statement said.
For a city to be placed on maximum alert, the incidence rate must exceed 100 infections per 100,000 among elderly inhabitants and 250 per 100,000 among the general public, while at least 30% of intensive care beds are reserved for coronavirus patients.
A week ago, restaurants and bars were shut down for a fortnight in Marseille, the southern city at the epicentre of the second wave, prompting protests and an unsuccessful legal challenge.
Restaurants in Marseille will be allowed to reopen early under the same new protocols.
France on Sunday reported 12,565 new cases of coronavirus, while 893 Covid-19 patients have been admitted into intensive care over the past week.
Ireland’s health chiefs, meanwhile, reportedly recommended to the government on Sunday that the country enter a second nationwide lockdown for four weeks in a surprise move that cabinet will discuss on Monday, two government sources said.
Ireland’s national public health emergency team recommended a leap to the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions, level 5, from current level 2 controls in 24 of Ireland’s 26 counties and stricter Level 3 measures in Dublin and Donegal.
The government has almost entirely adopted their health chiefs’ advice throughout the pandemic, but one of the sources said a return to lockdown would have a serious economic and societal impact.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the leaders of his two coalition partners will meet the country’s chief medical officer on Monday ahead of a cabinet meeting to discuss the recommendations.
Under level 5, people are asked to stay at home, except to exercise within 5km, with only essential retailers allowed to stay open. Unlike the first lockdown, schools and creches would not have to close.
A spokesperson for the health department was not immediately available for comment on the advice.
In England, leaked documents seen by the Guardian show plans for a new three-tier lockdown system, paving the way for potential harsher restrictions including the closure of pubs and a ban on all social contact outside of household groups.
Source: The Guardian
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