Thu, 15 Apr 2021

Residents of Nice and its surrounds on the French Riviera have joined the northern city of Dunkirk in a temporary return to lockdown, as the government hopes its weekend confinement strategy will stem soaring Covid-19 cases.

Inhabitants of the French Riviera and the northern port city will be denied their weekend strolls along the beach for at least two weeks, in addition to a national 6pm curfew.

In both places, numbers of infections have spiked and hospitals are overwhelmed, with some patients being transferred to other French regions.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi announced on Friday a ban on the beaches and the famous Promenade des Anglais esplanade to ensure the restrictions are fully respected.

"We absolutely need to avoid big gatherings, as the weekend is expected to be summer-like and extremely attractive... Reason must prevail," he said in a video message posted on social media. Only essential shops will remain open, he added.

Nice reported this week a rate of almost 800 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 people, nearly four times the national average.

Estrosi has repeatedly attributed the worsening situation in his city to the presence of "too many tourists" during end-of-year holidays, listing the UK, Scandinavia, United Arab Emirates and Russia, which have direct flights to Nice airport.

"We are now paying a very high price," he said. Since then, France has banned almost all travellers from outside the European Union and applied restrictions to those coming from inside the bloc.

The weekend lockdown also includes nearby coastal towns of Cannes, Antibes and nearby Mediterranean beauty spots.

Residents will be able to go out only for essential needs such as food shopping, medical appointments or urgent family business. Taking exercise outside will be allowed for a maximum of one hour per day and up to 5 kilometres from home.

The national 6pm curfew will apply during the week.


Originally published on RFI

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