Covid: Record-breaking 440-mile traffic jam stretches around Paris as residents flee second lockdown

Traffic jams stretch across the French capital Credit: @MichaelEWebber

A record-breaking 438-mile traffic jam stretched around Paris on Thursday night, hours before France entered its second Covid lockdown following a massive spike in new coronavirus cases.

Unusually heavy traffic was reported throughout the Île-de-France as residents attempted to leave the region before France shut down once again.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic lined the Sébastopol Boulevard in the centre of Paris on Thursday night.

According to figures from the official traffic monitoring website Sytadin, Thursday night's queue reached 706 kilometres, breaking the previous French record of 391 miles seen last December during public transport strikes.

New travel restrictions under the second lockdown mean people are not allowed to leave their homes unless it is for essential work or medical reasons.

The new lockdown is less strict than what France experienced in the spring, but while schools and some shops will remain open, non-essential businesses such as bars and restaurants must close.

People enjoy their last time on a bar terrace in Paris on Thursday night. Credit: AP

A few hundred people took to the streets of Paris to protest the French government's new lockdown and curfew measures on Thursday night, angry at what they say are unfair and antidemocratic rules.But most Parisians are resigned to the new measures, as the number of virus-related deaths rise and Covid-19 patients fill French hospitals.Covid-19 patients now fill 60% of French intensive care units, and France reported 244 virus-related deaths in a single day Wednesday, bringing the total to 35,785 since the pandemic began, among the world's highest reported tolls.