President Emmanuel Macron has ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities to contain the rising spread of the coronavirus in the country.
In a televised interview on Wednesday, Macron said residents of those cities would not be allowed outdoors between 9pm (19:00 GMT) and 6am (04:00 GMT) from Saturday, for at least four weeks, except for essential reasons.
“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” Macron said, adding the measure would stop people visiting restaurants and private homes in the late evening and night.
He said new daily coronavirus cases must be brought down to “3,000 or 5,000” from current levels, which have reached up to almost 27,000.
In addition to Paris and its region, the measures are being imposed in Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse, Macron said.
“We won’t be leaving the restaurant after 9pm,” Macron said. “We won’t be partying with friends because we know that that’s where the contamination risk is greatest.”
Anyone found to be outdoors during the curfew without special authorisation would face a fine of 135 euros ($159), Macron said.
“We are in a worrying situation,” Macron said, while insisting France had not “lost control” of the virus and a second full lockdown, like the two-month measure earlier this year, would be “disproportionate”.
Macron said the government would make full short-term working payments available to all employees in sectors such as the restaurant industry that are affected by the new measures.
Authorities would also work with cultural businesses such as cinemas and theatres to try and find a way for them to continue functioning by changing their showtimes, he said.
Macron appealed to citizens to apply all hygienic measures even in private and among friends, including wearing masks at family gatherings.
“The message I want to send this evening is that I need each of you, we need each other, to find solutions.
“We will come out of this stronger because we will be more united,” he said. “We will get through this, together.”