France declares state of emergency due to Covid-19

14 October 2020, 18:37 | Updated: 14 October 2020, 19:23

France declares a state of emergency due to Covid-19
France declares a state of emergency due to Covid-19. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

France will introduce a state of emergency from Saturday due to the rising spread of coronavirus, which will include a 9pm-6am curfew in several major cities.

The French government declared the public health state of emergency on Wednesday evening prior to the commencement of President Emmanuel Macron's speech to the nation later in the day.

“The decision was made as a result of rising figures in daily registered Covid-19 cases. French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation later this evening”, a French government spokesperson said.

Prime Minister Jean Castex presented to the French Council of Ministers a decree restoring the measure from the early hours of Saturday morning

A 9pm-6am curfew will be introduced in eight metropolitan areas, which will include major French cities such as the capital Paris, Lyon, Lille, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Grenoble, Aix and Montpellier

It will currently last for four weeks, much shorter than the previous state of emergency in France which began in March and lasted until 10 July. However, the government can request a further two weeks from Parliament.

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At the start of Mr Macron's speech, the president said: "We have not lost control. We are in a situation which is worrying and which justifies that we are neither inactive nor in panic."

He said curfew devices would be put in place, however he did not clarify what these might entail.

A report of the Council of Ministers read: "In view of its spread on the national territory, the Covid-19 epidemic constitutes a health disaster endangering, by its nature and its seriousness, the health of the population.

"It justifies that the state of health emergency be declared so that measures strictly proportionate to the health risks incurred and appropriate to the circumstances of time and place can be taken."

The move was criticised by National Secretary of the French Communist Party Fabien Roussel, who said the decision could not be "done on the sly".

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Speaking in the French Parliament, he said: "We learn that a decree in the Council of Ministers to restore the state of emergency has been signed. So what are we for? If it is time to strengthen the state of emergency, this is where we have to debate it!"

It comes after Portugal and declared a similar state of emergency on Wednesday, along with the Spanish government imposing a shutdown on Madrid.

Elsewhere, the Netherlands has imposed a four-week partial lockdown, meaning restaurants will close and face masks will be mandatory in public.

In the Czech Republic, schools have been force to close, while in the UK, Liverpool has entered the strictest lockdown level of the government's three-tier system.