From Saturday, nearly 70 per cent of the population of France will be under a night-time curfew, as the country became the second in the EU to top one million confirmed cases of the Chinese coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that from overnight Friday to Saturday at midnight, 38 more départments will be added to the restrictions list, more than double the number currently subjected to the curfew.
Frenchmen will be forbidden from going out between 9 pm until 6 am, needing a certificate of travel to be out during the curfew. Being caught on the streets without official permission could result in a €135 fine, which rises of up to €1,500 for subsequent offences.
Affecting a total of 54 départments and 46 million French people, some 69 per cent of citizens are now under nighttime lockdown, according to radio broadcaster France Bleu.
The region of Île-de-France (the eight départments of Paris and surrounding suburbs) as well as the eight metropolises of Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Montpellier, and Toulouse, have already been subject to the curfew since last weekend.
“The situation is serious. The circulation of the virus is extremely high and the month of November will be trying,” Prime Minister Castex said on Thursday. He added that he would be monitoring the spread of the Chinese virus, and in a week if numbers are not under control, the government may consider “hardening” the lockdown.
France confirmed more than one million cases of coronavirus, after Spain was the first Western European nation to hit that milestone on Wednesday. Spain has the seventh-highest number of patients in the world, with France at fifth, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker, as at the time of reporting.
Across Europe, governments are increasing lockdown and social distancing measures after seeing a rise in numbers in recent weeks. Even Switzerland, which was one of the least-affected in Europe became one of the worst-affected in just a few weeks.
In terms of deaths in Europe — which includes Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Turkey, and parts of the Balkans and the Caucasus, according to BBC statisticians — the UK has the highest number, followed by Italy, Spain, and France.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker, the UK has the fifth-highest total number of deaths across the whole world. The top ten countries for fatalities includes four European countries: the United Kingdom, Italy (sixth), Spain (seventh), and France (eighth).