Covid-19 France: Montpellier and Toulouse on ‘max alert’

Local prefectures took the decision after sharp rises in Covid cases and hospitalisations, while politicians call for more social distancing in private spaces.

12 October 2020
By Joanna York

Prefectures in the departments of Haute-Garonne and Hérault announced yesterday evening (Sunday October 11) that Toulouse and Montpellier will become "maximum" Covid alert zones from this evening.

The two cities and their surroundings will now be subject to extra health restrictions such as closing some public establishments (including bars, sports centres, dance halls and casinos), and limiting customer numbers in shopping centres. Restaurants will be able to stay open with extra health protocols in place.

Restrictions in Montpellier and surrounding area 

In Hérault the new measures will affect Montpellier and the communes of Saint-Gély-du-Fesc, Saint-Clément-de-Rivière, Teyran, Palavas-les-Flots, Saint-Aunès, Mauguio and Montarnaud.

In a statement, the prefecture said the restrictions will “limit large gatherings, prevent risky activities and regulate other types of activity to allow economic and social life to continue”.


Mayor protests restrictions in Toulouse

In Haute-Garonne, the city of Toulouse and sixteen communes will be affected: Colomiers, Tournefeuille, Blagnac, Plaisance-du-Touch, Cugnaux, Balma, Castanet-Tolosan, Saint-Orens-de-Gameville, Labège, Aucamville, Launaguet, L’Union, Portet-sur-Garonne, Ramonville-Saint-Agne, Auzeville-Tolosane, and Quint-Fonsegrives.

In a statement, the prefecture said the three criteria for placing the city of Toulouse on maximum alert zone had been met. It wrote: “The rate of incidence is over 250 per 100,000 inhabitants (252.7), the rate of incidence for people over 65 is over [100 cases] per 100,000 inhabitants (153.7) and the number of patients in intensive care in Occitanie is over 30% (31.1%).”

However, the mayor of Toulouse has opposed the decision to implement new health rules in the city, specifically the complete closure of bars. 

Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc told news source FranceInfo yesterday: “There are measures I don’t agree with, such as completely closing bars. 

“I think propagation is minimal in such places, and it is essentially private spaces where propagation of the virus is happening today. It is the responsibility of the individual, the attitude of each person, that counts more than tormenting an economy that is already in a bad way.”

Prime Minister calls for more social distancing in homes 

Prime Minister Jean Castex has also called for people in France to limit social interactions in their homes. Speaking today (October 12) to news service FranceInfo he said: “I cannot regulate private spaces, but there is someone who can: The homeowner, the current resident.

“I ask people to respect barrier measures in private spaces as they would in public spaces.”

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