The French capital Paris is now on high alert due to rising corona infections. Bars and cafes must close.
Sparsely occupied Parisian cafes – in the next few weeks, no one will sit here at all Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes/reuters
On Monday, October 5, French health authorities ordered the highest "scarlet" alert level for Paris and the closer suburban belt before the actual state of emergency.
New precautionary measures and even more drastic restrictions than before are thus coming into force: bars and cafes must close completely for at least two weeks, restaurants may continue to make money from food and drink on condition that they comply with tightened hygiene and distance regulations and draw up a list of the names of their guests. Alcohol without food may no longer be sold.
Fitness centers must remain closed and swimming pools are only open to schoolchildren and top athletes. Universities in the capital have been instructed to double lecture dates whenever possible in order to halve the number of students in lecture halls. Universities and schools, ahead of other workplaces, are considered one of the most dangerous hotbeds of infection.
These measures in the fight against the coronavirus, already announced in general terms on Sunday and now specified, are not a real surprise. For days, the population has been warned and admonished by the highest authorities.
Toast to the lost conviviality
Until now, people in the capital and in most of the country should also wear protective masks on the street and even more so in stores and – if possible – at work and avoid private meetings with more than ten people. Cafes, bars and restaurants were not affected by the mask requirement – because it is difficult to eat, drink or smoke (outside) with a mask on.
To some it seems absurd to have to respect this obligatory protective regulation when walking in the park, but not on a Parisian cafe terrace in densely packed company. Thus, on the Monday before the new restrictions came into force, many did not miss the opportunity to toast without a mask, but with a last mojito or a beer among "copains" to a freedom and sociability lost for the time being.
The situation in Paris, however, as evidenced by covid statistics, is serious. According to Health Minister Olivier Veran, who provides almost daily updates on the status of the epidemic, all warning lights are flashing for the capital. The following indicators serve this purpose: the rising number of confirmed infections, which currently stands at 250 infections per 100,000 inhabitants and has thus triggered the highest alert level in the Paris region; and the proportion of beds occupied by covid patients in the intensive care units of hospitals, which should not exceed 30 percent.
In Paris hospitals, however, the increase in covid patients threatens to cause dramatic bottlenecks within a very short time. This is because the number of beds in intensive care units – a total of 5,000 beds in France – has not been increased since the first wave of the epidemic in the spring due to a lack of additional nursing staff.
The tightened Corona measures are intended to avoid a catastrophe in the hopelessly overstretched healthcare system. However, the French people’s trust in the government has been shaken by various wrong decisions during the pandemic. All the government can do now is stir up fear of the virus and a second lockdown to get people to comply.