Paris bars and cafes will shut for two weeks as the city and its region were placed on maximum alert Monday, with Europe facing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the hospitalisation of President Donald Trump throwing the US election campaign into a tailspin.
France reported nearly 17,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday alone, the highest daily number since the country began widespread testing.
The shuttering of bars and cafes — seen by many as the essence of Parisian life — were “braking measures because the epidemic is moving too fast,” Paris police chief Didier Lallemant told journalists, adding that restaurants will remain open provided they respect new safety measures.
These will include making sanitising hand gel available at all dining tables, limiting patrons to six a table with at least a metre (3.3 feet) between seats, and allowing patrons to remove their masks only for eating.
“It’s not going to work for small restaurants,” said the owner of a tiny Paris eatery that also operates as a cafe and a bar — depending on the time of day — as well as a tobacconist. “Everybody is going have to crunch numbers: Is it worth staying open or not?” the owner who gave his name only as Michel said.
Also on Monday, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said she would self-isolate for a day after learning she had met someone infected with Covid-19 last week.