Covid-19: Paris bars and restaurants risk closure

In Paris, two out of the three Covid criteria that would raise the alert level to “scarlet” have already been met. The closure of bars and restaurants may follow.

30 September 2020
Empty tables in a restaurant on Rue Mouffetard in Paris. Covid-19: Paris bars and restaurants risk closureRestaurants, bars and cafes in Paris may find themselves without customers as Covid cases rise in the capital.
By Joanna York

The three criteria that could raise the alert level in Paris to the highest “scarlet” rating are:

  • A general rate of incidence over 250 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • A rate of incidence for elderly people of 100 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care rising over 30%

Deputy mayor of Paris Anne Souyris told news source FranceInfo: “According to the different government criteria for raising the alert level to scarlet, we [in Paris] already meet two.” 

Ms Souyris said the general rate of incidence and the rate of incidence for the elderly were already at scarlet levels in the French capital, a situation she described as “very problematic”. 

She added: “In intensive care, we are a little below 30% in Paris, but only just. And we know that at 30% that means we find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose who we can give intensive care beds to.”

The latest figures from health body Santé publique France, released on September 29, show there are currently 404 Covid-19 patients hospitalised in Paris, with 94 in intensive care. 

Bars and restaurants in Paris could close

The deputy mayor said: “Are we going to see the same restrictions [in Paris] as in Marseille, and close all the cafes and restaurants? Maybe.”

The closure of bars and restaurants in Marseille last week was, controversially, ordered by the central government rather than by local officials, meaning the mayor’s office in Paris may have little say over whether or not venues can stay open in the capital.

Nonetheless, Ms Souyris went on to criticise the government policy of closing bars and restaurants, asking whether the measures were “reasonable” while stronger measures to reduce outbreaks in schools and universities were not being investigated.

 

French chef calls on restauranteurs to protest Covid-19 closures

Meanwhile chef Philippe Etchebest has called on his colleagues in the French restaurant industry to gather outside their establishments at midday on Friday, October 2, wearing black armbands. He said: “We have to make some noise and show that we are here.”

Due to the health crisis, cafes, bars and restaurants in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence are currently closed completely, and bars must close at 22:00 in 11 cities in France. Mr Etchebest hopes that a widespread protest by hospitality staff will raise awareness that the industry is “dying” following the latest restrictions, on the back of two-month closures during confinement in spring.

Speaking to news source FranceInfo on September 28, the Michelin-starred chef said: “We had just about got our heads above water, and now they’re shoving us under even further to drown us.” 

According to Mr Etchebest there will be “30% bankruptcy and 250,000 additional job-seekers” as a result of this year’s restrictions on the hospitality industry before the end of the year.

He added that, in his opinion, restaurants are no more dangerous “than people gathering for family reunions in apartments or for parties outside, which I see regularly… [Restaurants] have respected all of the health protocols that have been imposed on us. Why are we seen as more dangerous?”

The chef hopes that Friday’s protest will lead to negotiations between hospitality unions and the government. He said: “It’s a peaceful protest, without violence, not disobedience because I don’t encourage that. It’s just to show that we are here, we are dying and something has to be done.”

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