French president Emmanuel Macron clamped down on France’s movements Wednesday, following many other EU leaders, to curb alarming infection rates across the continent.
During an interview with two journalists at the Elysée Palace, President Macron issued a state of health emergency in France and announced a curfew in the cities suffering from the highest infection rates for a period of four to six weeks. The curfew begins on Saturday 17 October and will last from 9pm to 6am each night. The cities affected are Paris, Aix/Marseille, Montpelier, Grenoble, Lyon, Lille, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.
The Telegraph reported that France had an overall 14-day infection rate of 293.1 per 100,000 and hit its peak on Saturday with over 27,000 daily infections.
Aurélien Rousseau, head of the regional healthy body in Paris stated that the positivity rate in tests is now at 17%, the highest figure ever seen–the infection rate per 100,000 stands at 413.
The hospital bed occupancy rate in Paris hospitals sits at 42% but more worrying still is a comment by Martin Hirsch, head of Paris hospital group AP-HP. He told Le Parisien on Monday that within 10 days, that number of taken hospital beds would increase to between 70 and 90% (out of a total of 1,190 beds).
In the Netherlands, the prime minister Mark Rutte announced the closure of bars and restaurants. The sale of alcohol is banned after 8pm to limit social mingling. “It will hurt us, but it’s the only solution,” Rutte was quoted in Le Monde. “We must be more strict.”
In Italy, the prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced new restrictions; bars and restaurants cannot serve non-seated customers after 9pm, celebrations are banned and no more than 6 guests are allowed in anyone’s house. Italy had the highest number of daily infections since April (4,619) but it was a much lower figure than in France or Spain.
Schools have been closed in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the entire EU moves to a color-coded scheme of travel restrictions. As reported by The New York Times, countries will now be coded green, orange or red depending on Covid-19 infection rates–green at the low end of risk, orange in the middle and red at the high end. European travel will be limited from those countries which are coded red.
The EU is also trying to streamline quarantine and testing amongst member countries and providing warnings when national travel rules change, so that many visitors are not left stranded.