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China Daily Global / 2020-10 / 16 / Page007

France fights back with curfew

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-16 00:00

Macron, ruling out lockdown, curbs nighttime trips to battle second wave

PARIS-In France, one of the European countries hardest hit by the coronavirus' resurgence, a curfew will be introduced in big cities and private meetings will be restricted, President Emmanuel Macron ordered on Wednesday.

In his first major TV appearance since July, Macron rang the alarm bell on "a dangerous virus which starts off again and spreads rapidly in Europe and France", while reassuring citizens that the second wave remained under control.

"We have not lost control. We are in a situation which is worrying and which justifies that we are neither inactive nor in panic. We learned from the first wave,"Macron told the France 2 and TF1 television stations.

With the aim to reduce daily new cases to 3,500 from the current average of around 20,000, the French government opted for "measures that are pertinent" and ruled out a new round of lockdown, which Macron said would be "disproportionate".

Starting from Friday midnight, a four-week curfew will be imposed in the greater Paris region and eight major cities-Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Rouen, Toulouse, Montpellier and Saint-Etienne.

These regions are already on maximum alert, with bars and gyms shut down and theaters and restaurants under strict health protocols. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in public spaces such as beaches and parks.

"There will not be a traffic ban but a strict restriction of (movement) for good reasons. We will no longer go to restaurants, to party, to meet friends after 9 pm," Macron explained.

Anyone violating the curfew would be fined 135 euros ($159), and permission will be available for those who have health emergencies and work at night, he added.

As of Wednesday, a further 22,591 COVID-19 cases were confirmed, up by 9,598 compared with Tuesday's count. The cumulative number of infections rose to 779,063, Europe's second-biggest tally after Spain.

While Germany, the European Union's most populous nation, is still in comparatively good shape, alarm bells have started ringing there, too. On Thursday, the country's national disease control center reported 6,638 cases over the latest 24-hour period-exceeding the previous record of nearly 6,300 set in late March, although testing in the country of 83 million has expanded greatly since then.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany's 16 state governors agreed on Wednesday night to tighten mask-wearing rules, make bars close early and limit the number of people who can gather in areas where coronavirus infection rates are high. Merkel, who stressed the importance of keeping contact-tracing efforts on track, said:"We must stop this exponential rise, the quicker the better."

Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease control center, said "we can still repress the spread, the exponential growth" of the virus. But officials made clear that more efforts may be necessary.

Important step

"I think yesterday's decisions are an important step, but they probably won't be enough," Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, told ARD television. "So now it is up to the population that we don't just look at 'what am I allowed to do now,' but basically we must do more and be more cautious than what the governors decided yesterday".

Merkel noted that neighboring countries are having to take "very drastic measures".

Globally, there were 38,537,804 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,092,641 deaths as of Thursday, according to a tally kept by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Mexico on Wednesday called on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to establish a support strategy for middle-income countries, saying they have no financial wiggle room to tackle the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Bulgaria cannot afford to take the kind of emergency financial measures that developed countries have adopted, Mexico's Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said.

Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday reported 4,056 new cases of coronavirus infection and 478 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 829,396 cases and 84,898 deaths.

Xinhua - Agencies


Without the pre-pandemic crowds, visitors admire Le Sacre de Napoleon (The Coronation of Napoleon), by French painter Jacques-Louis David, in the Louvre Museum in Paris on Wednesday. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP



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