Great Britain

Bars, restaurants & cafes forced to shut in Marseille as number of people in hospital with coronavirus doubles in a week

BARS, cafés and restaurants are to shut down in France’s second city as the country's coronavirus cases surge.

It was tonight announced that the closures in Marseille will take hold on Monday as part of a nationwide series of tough new measures.

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France's health secretary Olivier Véran announced that bars in Paris, Lille and Grenoble must also shut at 10pm from next week, while gatherings of more than 10 people will also be banned.

In addition, local 'prefects' will be given the power to shut bars earlier if necessary, while the number of people allowed to attend sports and cultural events will be slashed from 5,000 to 1,000.

A ban on renting party venues - including for weddings - was also announced.

During a press conference broadcast live to the nation, Mr Véran said: "The Greater Paris health system is now strongly under strain.

"The number of hospitalised patients within the region is increasing very rapidly.

"There are nearly 1,000 hospitalisations for coronavirus over the past seven days, against 460 the previous week - it has doubled."

The shutdown in Marseille will last for at least a fortnight before ministers review the measure.

Bars and restaurants will also be closed in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. 

Mr Véran said the new measures were "not aimed at scaring people too much", but added: "It's to tell you there is still time to act."

"The measures we are taking aim to make this curve flat, or rather to get off the path we’re on, so as to protect our hospitals and intensive care units," he said.

"If we do not take action quickly, we risk reaching a critical situation in some of the most affected areas in a matter of weeks."

Ministers in Paris recently held a series of crisis meetings to analyse the latest surge, which saw more than 10,000 cases and 78 deaths recorded in France on Tuesday.

The incidence rate of infection has risen to 204 per 100,000 inhabitants in the greater Paris area.

Mask wearing is already mandatory in public places in France, but there have been concerns about people flouting social distancing advice.

Young people been criticised for gathering in large groups, often without masks, at bars and cafés in the capital.

With more than 460,000 confirmed cases and over 31,400 deaths to date, concern is growing about hospital capacity to handle a second wave.

Admissions have started to rise again after being contained during France’s lockdown between March and May.

Travellers from France must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the UK.

This week, Brits were warned the UK is just 'a few weeks' behind both France and Spain in terms of surging infection rates.

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