Parisians are bracing for news of expected bar closures from Monday as health data shows the coronavirus epidemic is still at critical levels in the capital and its closest suburbs.
Reinforced sanitary measures in restaurants – such as limiting groups and taking customers’ temperature – has fuelled hopes they’ll be exempt from tougher restrictions to be announced by Health Minister Olivier Véran.
A state of “heightened alert” means Paris bars are already forced to close early, at 10pm.
Nearly 17,000 positive cases of Covid-19 were detected over the past 24 hours in France – a record since the use of large-scale testing.
Comprising nearly seven million people, the capital and its inner suburbs have already breached all maximum alert thresholds.
The number of cases per 100,000 residents has risen to 259.6, above the threshold of 250, while the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units was nearly 35 percent – above the maximum alert threshold of 30 percent.
Véran warned if the "worrying" situation did not improve over the weekend, tougher measures would take effect as of Monday.
“We would have no other choice than to move Paris and the inner suburbs into the maximum alert classification…reducing social interactions, including the total closure of bars,” he said.
Restaurants may stay open
On Thursday, Véran granted a "reprieve" to Parisian cafes, saying he would wait for the latest figures before putting Paris and its inner suburbs on "maximum alert", like in Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Guadeloupe.
If Paris is placed on maximum alert, the High Council of Public Health must decide by Monday whether restaurants carrying out strict protocols will be allowed to remain open.
A favourable decision would mean restaurants maximum alert zones in other parts of France would also be given a reprieve, an unnamed government source told Le Parisien.
An Elabe poll for BFMTV on Sunday found that 61 percent of residents would support the complete closure of bars in Paris and the inner suburbs.