France calls up 4,400 officers to enforce 6pm curfew in Paris amid rising Covid-19 infections and compliance concerns

The French authorities have vowed to increase their presence on the streets this weekend as France struggles to enforce a 6pm-6am curfew amid soaring Covid-19 infections across the country and in the capital.

“If the police find groups of people in which respect for social distancing cannot be guaranteed, in particular on the banks of the Seine and in public parks and gardens, they are instructed to proceed with their evacuation,” the Paris police department confirmed on Friday, as it announced the mobilization of 4,400 officers this weekend. 

The police also urged people to ensure they reduce their social contacts to a maximum of six people and avoid any travel outside the Paris metropolitan area in order to prevent spreading the virus to other regions. 

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“If, during gathering in public places, it is found that the sanitary measures in force are not respected, people will be dispersed immediately,” the statement adds. 

Since mid-January, the country has been under a nighttime curfew running from 6pm until 6am. However, its effectiveness has been called into question in recent weeks with 23 regions of France placed under “reinforced surveillance” over a rise in Covid-19 infection rates. Stricter measures have been brought in at weekends for Nice and Dunkirk already and will be imposed in the northern area of Pas-de-Calais as of Saturday. 

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex backtracked on proposed plans for a weekend shutdown of the capital and other major towns, while the Paris deputy mayor has requested a three-week circuit-breaker lockdown to stem the spread of the virus, followed by a rapid reopening of businesses. 

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Despite calls for tough new measures in the capital, Paris will only see relatively minor additional restrictions, including the closure of non-food stores and shopping centers greater than 10,000m². 

On Thursday, a group of protesters took over Paris’ Odeon Theater as part of a series national demonstrations against the continued closure of cultural venues. As many as 80 people made their way into the 18th century building.

In recent weeks, media reports have shown crowds of people enjoying good weather in the capital, many maskless and flouting bans on social distancing.

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