President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities to contain the spread of COVID-19 after daily new infection rates reached alarming record levels.
In a televised interview, Macron said residents of those cities - which combined are home to close to a third of the French population - would not be allowed to be outdoors between 9pm and 6am from Saturday, for a duration of 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.
We are going to have to deal with this virus until at least the summer of 2021, Macron said, saying all scientists were in agreement on that point.
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, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse were being targeted by the measures, Macron said. That meant that around 20 million people would be affected out of a total population of some 67 million.
Anyone found to be outdoors during the curfew without special authorization would face a fine of €135 (US$159), and more than 10 times that sum for repeat offenders, Macron said.