People went out on the eve of coronavirus curfew Photograph:( Reuters )
The curfew will be enforced in large cities of France between 9pm to 6 am each night at least for a month. The decision has been taken to avoid a new wave of coronavirus infections
Mood on the streets of Paris was just like New Year'e Eve on Friday. The Parisians came out in large numbers to experience that last bit of nightlife before Covid-19 curfew kicked in. The curfew will be enforced in large cities of France between 9pm to 6 am each night at least for a month. The decision has been taken to avoid a new wave of coronavirus infections.
Tables were overflowing in bars of Paris and there was sound of laughter in the air.
"We will enjoy it as much as possible, a restaurant, bar hopping and a little walk with friends on the Champs-Elysées", said 19-year-old Kurtys Magdelo who was out with friends.
Health authorities on Friday recorded more than 25,00 new coronavirus cases, after Thursday's record of over 30,000. A total of 122 people were said to have died of the virus in 24 hours. Older citizens have been caught in the new wave of coronavirus infections.
The ARS health authority for the southeastern Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, which includes Grenoble, Lyon and Saint-Etienne, on Friday asked hospitals to cancel all non-urgent surgery to safeguard intensive care capacity for future Covid cases.
The curfew has support from the public a Harris Interactive poll after Macron's announcement found 70 percent approval
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pressing the government to ease the rules for theatres, cinemas and other cultural venues so that patrons can return home later.
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Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot backed the idea, but Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire poured cold water on any special treatment for live shows.
"If we start allowing multiple exceptions," he told French TV, "we're not going to make it".
Prime Minister Jean Castex added Friday: "The rules must apply to everyone".
Restaurant owners have complained bitterly about a measure they say makes little sense given the strict social distancing rules they have already applied.
"I've never seen anything like this in the 50 years I've been here," said Stain Roman, manager of La Mere Buonavista restaurant in Marseille, another city facing the curfew.
No travel restrictions
The new curfew measures do not have travel restrictions. This has some worrying that a large number of people will flee to the country.
That prompted officials in Le Touquet, a popular resort town on the English Channel, to impose its own curfew, with bars and restaurants ordered to close at 11:30 pm.
Nationwide, wedding celebrations and other parties in public venues as well as student parties have been outlawed, and people are being urged to limit gatherings in private homes to six people.
"We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," Macron said Wednesday when he also put the country back under a health state of emergency starting Saturday.
Public broadcaster France Television said it would do its bit to help people through the curfew by adding a feature film every night to its usual programming, mostly during prime time.
(With AFP inputs)