Paris on 'maximum virus alert' with bars ordered to close as infections increase rapidly

Bars in the French capital have been ordered to close due to a rapid increase in coronavirus infections. Credit: AP

French authorities have ordered all bars to close and banned public parties in Paris as the number of coronavirus infections increased rapidly.

The capital city was put on maximum virus alert on Monday and police prefect Didier Lallement said the new restrictions, which do not include restaurants, would apply at least for the next two weeks.

Mr Lallement said: “We are continuously adapting to the reality of the virus. We are taking measures to slow down (the spread)."

Bars will be closed in Paris and its suburbs from Tuesday and student parties and festive or family events in public establishments will be banned.

Credit: AP

Authorities consider bars to be hot spots for infection as patrons don’t respect social distancing rules as much as they do at restaurants.

Restaurants are to remain open under strict conditions which include a minimum of one-metre distance between each table and groups limited to six people.

Patrons are also requested to register their name and phone numbers to help alert those exposed to someone with the virus.

Indoor sport facilities, including swimming pools, will only be open to children aged under 18. Gyms are already closed.

Cinemas, theatres and museums will remain open with strict sanitary rules, but fairs and professional shows won’t be allowed.

Authorities have maintained the limit of 1,000 spectators per day at big sports events, allowing the Roland-Garros tennis tournament to continue as planned this week.

The director of the Regional Health Authority, Aurelien Rousseau, said about 3,500 new cases of infection are confirmed on average each day in the Paris region, and 36% of ICU beds in the area are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The alert has already been raised to the maximum level for 12 days in the southern city of Marseille and nearby Aix-en-Provence, as well as the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean.

Authorities ordered the shutdown of all public venues, including bars and restaurants in these areas, which prompted several demonstrations from angry business owners in Marseille.

On Monday, local authorities announced restaurants in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence would reopen on condition they respect the same restrictions as in Paris.

French health authorities reported on Saturday 16,972 new cases of infection, the highest daily number since the country began widespread testing.

The country, one of the hardest hit in Europe, has reported 32,230 virus-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.