French authorities may place Paris on maximum virus alert as soon as Monday, potentially requiring all bars to close and other new restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday, AFP reports.
The capital and its closest suburbs, comprising nearly seven million inhabitants, have already breached the maximum alert thresholds, Veran told a press conference.
“We need a few days to confirm the trends, but if they are confirmed, we’ll have no choice but to put it on maximum alert, from Monday,” he said.
“That would imply that people in Paris and suburbs would have to drastically limit their social interactions… no more family gatherings, no more evenings out, and a total closure of bars,” he added.
“We’re in a phase where the situation is worsening.”
So far, only the southern city of Marseille and the Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe have been placed on maximum alert, leading to bar as well as restaurant closures, and a shutdown of public venues such as museums and cinemas unless strict safeguards are in place.
But Veran said five other cities – Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne – could also be placed on maximum alert next week.
Already in Paris, bars have to shut at 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) and gyms have been closed completely.
The government has said it will take every precaution necessary to avoid a new state of emergency that would require a generalised lockdown like the one imposed at the height of the outbreak, from mid-March to mid-May.