By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Elizabeth Pineau
PARIS (Reuters) – France could reimpose a night curfew on Paris and possibly the surrounding region amid government frustration that too many people are ignoring lockdown rules as COVID-19 infections soar.
France dramatically slowed the spread of the coronavirus in the spring with one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. But 10 months into the epidemic and with winter drawing in, many are reluctant to endure another period of confinement.
“It’s unbearable for those who respect the rules to see other French people flouting them,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM TV. “We need to take all the steps needed to fight the epidemic.”
A final decision on a curfew had not been taken, the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex said. It will be discussed at a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday, a government source said.
New COVID-19 lockdowns and curbs have stirred resistance across Europe even as countries including France and Spain deal with record daily infections and hospitals buckle under the strain.
“The police have observed clandestine parties, raves, private dinners, even though the virus is spreading rapidly,” a government source said.
In Paris, one person was becoming infected every 30 seconds, while a Parisian is admitted to hospital with the disease every 15 minutes, according to Health Minister Olivier Veran.
Health authorities reported 52,518 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Four seriously ill COVID patients will be airlifted to Vannes, in western France, from Corsica to alleviate pressure on the Mediterranean island’s intensive care units.
France imposed a nightly curfew on two-thirds of its 67 million people in the second half of October but this was lifted when Macron ordered a second lockdown from Oct. 30.
That forced the closure of all non-essential businesses like bars and restaurants, banned private gatherings and saw the return of sworn declarations needed to leave home. Schools remain open.
Data from apps that track trips made in Paris suggest people’s movements and traffic congestion fell sharply after France went back under lockdown though not as low as during the spring confinement.
Some Parisians say neighbours are still hosting illicit parties, while some parents say friends are organising children’s playdates.
“People are still partying in my building,” said nurse Emmanuel Davy, with a hand in plaster after banging on the door of a neighbour breaking lockdown rules.
“They think they’re young and nothing will happen to them. No-one thinks about others.”
One Uber driver on the dawn shift said he was still picking up people after a night out.
“They’re obviously youngsters out partying,” he said.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Elizabeth Pineau, Sarah White; Leigh Thomas and Lucien Libert; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Giles Elgood)
FILE PHOTO: A view shows the deserted Ile Saint Louis as the national lockdown starts as part of the COVID-19 measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Paris, France, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann