Closed businesses, bars and restaurants, beer hall chairs stacked on the sidewalks while cyclists and pedestrians rushed home on Saturday before 9:00 p.m., the start of the first night of play in Paris.
Paris remained silent and the streets empty as during the two-month confinement between March 17 and May 11 imposed by the government to fight the covid-19 pandemic, which on Saturday broke the record of 32,000 contaminated in one day .
Paris had not known a curfew since 1961, the year in which, during the war in Algeria, the government decreed it for Algerian Muslim workers.
The Latin Quarter, one of the busiest places in Paris, frequented by students and tourists, quickly emptied and at 9:00 p.m. it seemed that it was five in the morning.
“It is 9:00 pm and there is no one there”, congratulates Commissioner Patrick Caron, who ensures that the new rules are respected.
To curb the spread of the virus, the inhabitants of a dozen large French cities, including Paris and its suburbs, -20 million people in total- are subjected from Saturday to a curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for at least four weeks.
The authorities deployed a reinforcement of 1,350 police and gendarmes to enforce the new device in Paris and its immediate periphery.
– “My daughter is in the hospital” –
Police officers led by Commissioner Caron began patrolling around the restaurants and cafes of the Luxembourg Garden, near the Sorbonne University.
“The time for pedagogy is over, the time for sanctions has arrived. In case of infringement, a 4th class fine (135 euros, $ 156) is applied”, says the commissioner, who points out that the offending business can be closed by an administrative decision.
But tonight there were neither violators nor fines, and the policemen were dedicated to commenting on the loneliness of the streets of a city almost completely paralyzed.
Takeaway food outlets are the only ones open and the streets are almost exclusively driven by motorcycles and bicycles of delivery men and night buses, mostly almost empty.
The few pedestrians who venture out, less than a dozen in half an hour, could justify their presence on the street.
A man, with a worried face, advances in the direction of the policemen with a paper in his hand. “I come from the Curie hospital where my daughter was operated and they gave me this justification”, declares the pedestrian showing the paper.
“Okay. Good evening sir,” says the commissioner.
“It’s like during confinement, you act with discernment,” he adds, highlighting the situation of the homeless.
But the commissioner does not rule out, as in March and April, finding people with strange explanations or badly done exit permits.
In addition to Paris, the curfew concerns the cities of Lyon (center-east), Lille (north), Toulouse (southwest), Montpellier (south), Saint-Etienne (center), Aix-Marseille (south), Rouen (north ) and Grenoble (southeast).
dar / pa / dlm / pid / mba / zm / mar