İrem UZUN -TDO- Paris is set to be placed on maximum COVID alert from as soon as Monday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said, a move likely to force the closure of restaurants and bars and impose further restrictions on public life. Veran said the wider Paris region had now passed all three of the government's criteria for being put on the highest level of alert. In the past 24 hours, the coronavirus infection rate had surpassed 250 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants.
The number of infections rose by 13,970 to a total of 577,505 cases, the health ministry said, more than the 12,845 reported on Wednesday and below a record of 16,096 on Thursday last week. However, Véran said five other cities – Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Toulouse and Saint-Étienne – could also be placed on maximum alert next week. During his nearly one-hour speech, he explained that the virus was spreading "too fast" throughout France, stating that the country was in a "phase of worsening."
So far, only the southern city of Marseille and the Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe have been placed on maximum alert. The government ordered bars and restaurants there to shut down for two weeks from last Monday, prompting protests and a legal challenge, which failed. Restaurateurs plan a protest on Friday in Paris against the closure.