LONDON — Paris and its surrounding suburbs have been put on "maximum alert" Monday as coronavirus cases surge in the city.
Bars in the French capital will close on Tuesday as part of a new package of restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus but restaurants will be allowed to stay open, with "reinforced precautions," according to France 24.
Outlining specific measures on Monday, Paris' police chief Didier Lallement said that from Tuesday, all bars will not be allowed to open.
"These are braking measures because the epidemic is moving too fast," Lallement told journalists, news agency AFP reported. "From tomorrow, all bars will be closed."
Restaurants will be able to remain open while respecting strict protocol, such as distancing between tables, but alcohol will not be allowed to be sold after 10 p.m. Trade fairs, student parties and exhibitions will not be allowed and sports clubs and facilities are not allowed to open, French media reported. The measures will last for 15 days.
Speaking alongside the police chief Monday, Paris' Mayor Anne Hidalgo said "we will be vigilant to get out of this situation." On Sunday, Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne implored people in the areas affected to work from home, if possible.
France reported almost 17,000 new cases on Saturday and a further 12,565 confirmed infections on Sunday, according to official public health data, bringing the total number of cases to 629,509, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Paris has been placed on maximum alert as the Covid-19 incidence rate has exceeded 250 infections per 100,000 among the general public. The maximum alert is also triggered when two other criteria are met — when the incidence rate among those aged over 65 is above 100 per 100,000 people, and when at least 30% of the beds in intensive care units are reserved for Covid-19 patients.
France has moved to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases that started to build in August. France's second-largest city Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and its surrounding areas, as well as the overseas territory of Guadaloupe, have also been put under the maximum alert protocol in the last two weeks.
Aurelien Rousseau, head of Paris' regional health agency who was among the officials announcing restrictive measures Monday, said that it was futile to ignore the seriousness of the situation, tweeting on Sunday: "I see no reason for the denial. The figures are there, they weigh heavily."
In comments reported Sunday, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the closure of bars and cafes would be "tough" for the public.
"We are French, we love to drink, to eat, to live, to smile and to kiss each other," he told broadcasters LCI and Europe 1 on Sunday. "But we're also doing this because the people want us to," he added.