France puts 18,000,000 under 9pm curfew as 'state of emergency' returns

Eighteen million people across France face a 9pm curfew after the country was plunged back into a ‘state of health emergency’.

Residents in Paris and eight other cities will not be allowed to go to bars and restaurants or visit friends between 9pm and 6am from Saturday in an effort to curb soaring case numbers.

President Emmanuel Macron said the new measure was set to last at least four weeks, with further details to be announced today.

There will be no restrictions on public transport or movement between areas but anyone caught breaking curfew rules will be fined €135 (£122).

It comes after France recorded 22,591 new cases on Wednesday – the third time in six days the daily total has surpassed 20,000.

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The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals has risen to more than 9,100 for the first time since the end of June.

The curfew will apply to Ile-de-France and eight metropolitan areas including Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint Etienne and Toulouse.

A public state of health emergency ended three months ago after the first Covid-19 wave was brought under control but will be reinstated from midnight at Friday.

President Macron has described the ‘second wave’ as ‘worrying’ but said the country had not ‘lost control’ yet.

He promised France would ‘get through this together’ and ultimately ‘come out stronger because we will be more united’.

Speaking on television, the politician said: ‘Our goal is to curb the virus. We must reduce the number of cases per day to 3,000 or 4,000.

‘Our goal is to reduce private contacts. What is called the curfew is a measure that is appropriate.’

‘We won’t go to restaurants after 9pm, we won’t see friends, we won’t party, because that’s how to pass on the virus.’

It comes as a second wave gathers steam in the UK, with London, Manchester and Lancashire potentially facing harsher restrictions by tomorrow.

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