16.09.2020 Europe

Marseille, Bordeaux ramp up Covid-19 restrictions in response to virus surge

© AFP/Philippe Lopez
LISTEN SEP 16, 2020
© AFP/Philippe Lopez

The French departments of Bouches-du-Rhône and Gironde have tightened social restrictions in a bid to stem the rise in coronavirus infections. Groups gathering in parks or on the beach are to be limited to 10 people, with family events such as weddings also restricted. 

Bordeaux, in the southwest, and the Mediterranean city of Marseille, France's second-biggest city, have emerged as virus hotspots along with the capital Paris, heightening fears of a second wave of coronavirus.

Group and family gatherings will now be limited to 10 people in Bordeaux and the surrounding Gironde department, including in open spaces, prefect Fabienne Boccio told a press conference.

Marseille and the Bouches du Rhone department announced near identical measures. Police chief Christophe Mirmand called the health situation "very worrying".

Standing at bars will no longer be allowed and nightclubs will remain closed. Parties for weddings and other family events with more than 10 people are banned.

The maximum number of people allowed to watch sports and other large events has been set at 1,000, sparking a string of cancellations over coming weeks.

Companies are being urged to ensure employees work from home whenever possible, and bus services will be reinforced during rush hours to avoid crowding.

In Marseille, residents in nursing homes will only be able to receive two visitors per day; in Bordeaux only two per week.

Additional gendarme and riot police units will be deployed to enforce the measures, Boccio said, and a fresh review of the situation will be made within three weeks.

"If we have to toughen the measures, I will, but if we can lighten them, I'll do that as well," said the Bordeaux prefect.

"All the warning signals are flashing red," added Yann Bubien, director of the Bordeaux university hospital and a member of the government's scientific advisory council on the coronavirus.

His hospital has 77 Covid patients, of whom 24 are in intensive care, "A very rapid increase over the past 10 days," he said.

On Saturday, France reported 10,561 cases in 24 hours, the highest number since large-scale testing began. The death toll stands at nearly 31,000.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said Friday that while the crisis was "worsening" he wanted to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that would cripple the economy further.

(with AFP)

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