Daniel Cole/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Streets in cities across France emptied at 6 pm CET as a new 12-hour curfew came into force to stop the surge of coronavirus cases sweeping the country.
It comes as nearly 16,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours, according to data published on Sunday by Santé publique France.
The figure is still far higher than the government’s target of 5,000 cases per day.
Since January 2, 15 regions, or what the French refer to as “départements,” have imposed a 6 pm to 6 am curfew in an attempt to limit contagions.
A further eight departments followed suit from Sunday, January 10, and another two are due to do the same starting Tuesday, January 12.
Most of them are in the northeastern area of the country, but there’s a growing number that has taken the same course of action in the south-east as well, including Marseille, where the move hasn’t gone down well with traders.
“It’s going to be super-complicated, especially when I consider my turnover,” complained wine seller Youssef Karam. “I make 80 per cent of my my sales around 6 pm”.
Daniel Couzet, a florist in Marseille, said he usually shuts at 7.30 pm, but he says he’ll now have to bring in his flowers two hours earlier.
“It just serves to annoy people and make them rush to the shops from the office. It’s just one more nonsense, one more,” he explained.
French authorities continue to be concerned by the spread of the new, more transmissable variant of COVID-19 discovered in the UK.
The next two weeks look set to be crucial for these indicators, according to experts who also fear the probable fallout from the festive season.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 fell over the last 24 hours from 20,177 on Saturday to 15,944 on Sunday.
Since Tuesday, the average number of contaminations is 18,000 per day. This figure has varied greatly since mid-December, ranging from 3,000 to more than 25,000.
The rate of positivity, however, which measures the percentage of positive people at COVID-19, continued to rise to 6.5 per cent on Sunday against 6.3 per cent on Saturday. It was still at 5.2 per cent a week ago.