Restaurants to stay open, but Paris goes on maximum virus alert

Paris restaurants will be allowed to stay open — but under tightened restrictions — when the city is placed on maximum coronavirus alert in the face of alarming Covid-19 infection numbers, the prime minister’s office announced Sunday.

However bars and cafes in Paris and its environs appear certain to close under the new measures, set to last at least 15 days.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the capital’s police chief Didier Lallement will spell out the conditions on Monday.

Health Minister Olivier Veran announced last week that only improved Covid-19 infection rates could prevent “total closures” of the city’s trademark cafes and bars.

France reported nearly 17,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday alone, the highest daily number since the country began widespread testing.

Figures from the regional health agency ARS show new coronavirus cases remaining above 250 per 100,000 people in Paris.

That threshold triggers the maximum alert protocol, which has already hit the southern cities Aix-en-Provence and Marseille and their surroundings, as well as the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe.

Coronavirus patients are now taking up more than 30 percent of the intensive care beds in the Paris region.

“There is no justification for denial,” said Paris region health director Aurelien Rousseau on Sunday. “The numbers are what they are, and they are weighing heavily.” (AFP | Jacques KLOPP)

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