More than 20 French mayors have installed curfews in their areas to fight the spread of coronavirus, with others saying they are likely to follow.
Municipal police officers patrol the streets of Colombes, a town near Paris, after a curfew forbidding anyone from leaving their homes at night time entered into effect this weekend. Photo: AFP
The number of French towns and cities imposing night time curfews to reduce movement in their areas multiplied this weekend, with more municipalities having said they too might follow suit in the days to come.
From Nice in the south to Arras in the north, more 20 French municipalities had on Monday imposed variations of curfews (couvre-feux) in a bid to stop the spread of COVID -19, the highly contagious virus that is circulating actively on the entire French territory and putting a heavy toll on the country’s health system.
"We are continuing to see completely irresponsible behaviour (by some people)," Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi - who himself has tested positive of having the coronavirus - wrote in a tweet on Friday, as he announced a curfew among three new restrictive measures in the city to reduce people's movements further.
Several big cities and smaller towns in the south west quickly followed suit. Before the weekend was over, Perpignan, Beziers, Montpellier and others had added to the list.
On Sunday, the entire south west Alpes-Maritimes département decided to impose a regional curfew from 10pm and to 5am in all cities numbering more than 10,000 inhabitants, valid until March 31st.
Anyone leaving their house in that interval would risk a fine €135 fine.
Health workers and others in professions qualified as 'essential' to deal with the coronavirus epidemic would be the only ones exempt from this rule.
Outside of the curfew period the 'normal' lockdown rules still applied, with everyone being allowed to leave their homes for only a few essential activities and always bringing the mandatory form issued by the French government.
North and south
Outside the south, the areas that had imposed curfews by Monday were largely concentrated in the far north and north east. Cholet, in the mid-western département of Maine-et-Loire, was a lone exception in the west, having introduced a curfew from 9pm-5am.
Some of the cities in the Grand Est - the area in northeast France that has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic - have imposed curfews that begin even earlier, some places as early as 6pm.
Near Paris, Colombes was so far the only town with a curfew banning all outside activity between 10pm and 5am entering into effect on Saturday.
Municipal police officers patrol Colombes, near Paris on March 22, 2020, after a curfew was imposed to ban all outside activity during nighttime. Photo: AFP
On Monday, Trappes, in the Yvelines département, followed suit and announced that they too would introduce a curfew.
Towards a nationwide curfew?
Many have asked if the French government could introduce a nationwide curfew on top of the lockdown, but so far the interior ministry has said these kinds of restrictive measures should remain in the power of local officials.
Note: Because this is an evolving situation that rapidly could change, we recommend everyone check their local authorities' recommendations as well as social media to keep up-to-date with new rules in their respective area.