France on Friday declared two departments of the country active coronavirus circulation zones, including the capital Paris and a Mediterranean region with the metropolis of Marseille, raising alarms of a possible second wave just months after the end of lockdowns.
The classification allows the Health Ministry to leave it up to local authorities in each department to impose their own measures to curb the virus’ spread, including the movement of people and vehicles as well as potential closures of establishments where people congregate like restaurants, cafes, and bars.
With European tourists still flocking to Paris, and the lively Bouches-du-Rhone department including sunny tourist attractions like the French Riviera, Marseille, and Aix-en-Provence, government officials have had to raise caution in areas that could be ripe for a second wave of infection.
A total of 2,669 new cases of coronavirus nationwide in the last 24 hours have raised alarm bells for health officials.
In a Friday interview with FranceInter television, Health Director General Jerome Salomon expressed concern that these two regions are “particularly at risk.”
“There are a lot of people. These are areas of urban density,” he said.
“There is a lot of population flow, a lot of transport, a lot of young people who have an intense social activity.”
He added: “The indicators are bad, the signals are very worrying. The situation is deteriorating every week but there is no inevitability.”
Marseille, with a population of over 860,000, last week already mandated wearing masks in busy outdoor areas, as did the luxury resort of Saint-Tropez and the large city of Nice. All lie on the coast and attract thousands of tourists each summer.
Twenty-one other departments within France remain in what the Health Ministry considers a vulnerable condition.
The death toll in France currently stands at 30,388 with cases of infection at 209,365. A total of 4,864 people remain in hospital with 374 of those in intensive care.
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