France is preparing to announce stricter measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases skyrocketed since a nationwide lockdown was ended, AFP news agency reported.
Ministers will hold two meetings on Wednesday to analyse the latest surge, which has seen more than 10,000 cases and 78 deaths recorded as of Tuesday.
Cabinet members are expected to outline new restrictions in several coronavirus hotspots, including the larger Paris Ile-de-France area where the incidence rate of infection has risen to 204 per 100,000 inhabitants.
They will also discuss the possibility of speeding up coronavirus test results, which can currently take up to a week to obtain.
Sources told AFP that at a meeting of the Ile-de-France health authority, municipal officials and local police on Monday mooted the possibility of imposing a ban on evening alcohol sales in the capital, from 8pm daily.
Paris could also implement a 10-person limit on gatherings, a lowering of the ceiling for attendance of sports and cultural events from 5,000 to 1,000, and a temporary ban on renting party venues, including for weddings.
France has already made obligatory the wearing of masks in public places – indoors countrywide as well as outdoors in hard-hit areas like Paris.
But there are concerns about people flouting advice to keep a safe social distance, especially among young people. They have been gathering in large groups, often without masks, at bars and cafes in the capital and elsewhere.
Cities including Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lille and Marseille have already taken additional measures, such as limiting visits to care homes for the aged, who are more vulnerable to the virus, capping public gatherings and closing or limiting bar hours.
With more than 460,000 confirmed cases and over 31,400 deaths to date, concern is growing about hospital capacity to handle a new infection wave, as admissions have started to rise again after being contained during France’s March-May lockdown.
The developments in France follow a fresh slew of restrictive measures aimed at curbing a so-called second wave in Britain, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.