Thousands stuck in gridlock as they try to escape Paris ahead of France lockdown

30 October 2020, 09:57

Emmanuel Macron's new stringent measures are to last until at least December 1
Emmanuel Macron's new stringent measures are to last until at least December 1. Picture: Twitter

By Matt Drake

Record levels of traffic hit Paris as people attempted to flee the capital just hours before a new national lockdown came into force across France.

Jams stretched to a cumulative 430 miles in the Ile-de-France region early on Thursday evening, according to local media.

Video posted on Twitter showed thousands of Parisians in a mass exodus before the 9pm curfew and the start of the second lockdown from midnight.

French media report that many Parisians have left the city to spend lockdown in the countryside.

Speaking to Le Figaro newspaper, Anna, 24, said Paris was "psychologically hard" and she was leaving for her second home in Bernay in northern France.

Meanwhile, supermarkets were emptied from panic-buying and restaurants were full as people tried to enjoy their last meal out in what could be weeks or months.

Read more: Most of Scotland to be placed in Tier 3 of new five-level coronavirus system

Emmanuel Macron's new stringent measures are to last until at least December 1.

People will be required to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home which will be subject to police checks.

The French President said the country was at risk of being "overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first".

As France enters a second lockdown from Friday and Germany imposes a four-week partial lockdown, there is pressure on the UK Government to be "tougher and quicker" in its response.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government's "very firm view" is that a short national "circuit-breaker" lockdown would be the wrong approach, saying "you can't have a stop-start country".

Read more: Revellers take to Nottingham streets on final night before Tier 3 restrictions

He told Sky News: "We don't want to create a second national lockdown. We know that has some effect on bearing down on the virus but we also know it's immensely disruptive in other regards to people's lives and livelihoods and broader health and wellbeing, so we will do everything we can to avoid that situation."

Mr Jenrick said the new lockdowns in other European nations, including France, will have "long-term scarring effects" on people.

He added: "At the moment it is our very firm view that that is not the right approach for the country, it is not a short-term measure, it is likely to be for a number of weeks.

"If it succeeded it is likely then needed to be repeated regularly - you can't have a stop-start country where businesses are closing, people are losing their jobs, then they are having to restart again, the harm to people's mental health and broader wellbeing, I think, would be immense."

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