Paris goes under curfew as Europe ramps up virus restrictions

France on Wednesday became the latest European country to toughen anti-coronavirus measures, imposing a curfew in Paris and eight other cities from Saturday, while Germany and Ireland also ramped up restrictions.

“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” President Emmanuel Macron told public television, announcing a shutdown between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am that will remain in force for as long as six weeks.

Other major French cities such as Lyon, the Mediterranean port Marseille and southwestern Toulouse will similarly impose curfews, with around 20 million people affected in all, out of a total population of some 67 million.

Just minutes before Macron’s announcement, his government had said it would prolong a state of health emergency.

With over one million coronavirus deaths and nearly 40 million cases worldwide, regions like Europe that suppressed the first outbreak are again facing tough choices on how to control a new wave without the economic devastation wrought by nationwide lockdowns.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced tougher measures on gatherings and mask-wearing.

“I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic,” the leader said.

New infections in Germany continued to rise Wednesday, pushing past 5,000 cases in 24 hours — a level not seen since a lockdown imposed on Europe’s biggest economy in the spring.

“We’re in a situation where I think we can still flatten the exponential growth,” said Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s disease control agency. “But for that we all need to make an effort.” (AFP)

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