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New Covid restrictions: Marseille and Aix to shut all restaurants and bars


Coronavirus Map France. Ministry of healthNew regulations in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 go into effect tomorrow, 26 September. After several weeks of sharp increases in positive cases and hospitalisations, the French Minister of Health addressed the nation with a set of new restrictions for a series of cities now considered high-risk of viral transmission. Another map labels cities according to red, super red and ‘scarlet’ for Marseille, considered the highest risk.   

Health minister Olivier Véran presented the new classification map and detailed the heightened regulations. 

Cities will be classified as ‘scarlet’ if the following criteria are met:

  • 250 positive cases per 100,000 residents
  • 100 cases of elderly persons per 100,000 
  • 30% capacity in reanimation at hospitals

For now, the only ‘scarlet’ zones are Marseille (with neighbouring Aix-en-Provence) and the Island of Guadaloupe. They have been ordered to shut all bars and restaurants for two weeks, effective Saturday 26 September. Marseille’s mayor, Michèle Rubirola, took a strong stance against the decision. She tweeted that she was angry and astonished that such decisions were taken without even notifying or discussing with city authorities. 

Christophe Mirmand, the new Prefect of PACA has announced he is filing legal challenges to the new orders. 

Once again giving 24-hour notice before the weekend, restaurant owners are furious at the order to close last-minute. Most small businesses are struggling to survive and those who have stocked up on food for the weekend are asking if Macron will reimburse them for the fridges full of food. 

Restrictions for Nice

The cities marked ‘super red’ include Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, Lille, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne, Rennes, Rouen, Grenoble, Montpellier, Paris and it’s surrounding towns. The following regulations will go into effect from Monday: 

  • All public events are limited to 1000 persons
  • Ban on large events classified as ‘fête local’ or ‘fête etudiante’
  • Ban on gatherings in public spaces over 10 people (including parks, beaches, etc.)
  • Complete closure or partial closure of bars, hours to be decided by local authorities
  • Closure of all public halls and gyms 


PACA statistics

The mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, a city particularly hard hit with the cancellations of all international events, was quick to publish the latest statistics to his Facebook page, in the scope of giving a solid look at where we stand, without ‘hysteria’ or denial of necessary precautions. These figures do show a slight drop in numbers for the Alpes-Maritimes, signs that a peak from summer tourism has already been reached.

From Mayor David Lisnard:

“As announced in my previous post, it seems useful to me to make a very synthetic and factual point on the local Covid situation in the light of the latest data I have at my disposal:

1. Incidence rate (number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last week) : 

  • -Average in France: 94.8 last night, against 79.4 on Wednesday 16 September.
  • -PACA Region average: 132.56 yesterday evening, against 146.71 on Wednesday 16 September.
  • -Bouches du Rhône average: 208.7 last night, against 216.62 on Wednesday 16 September.
  • -Average Alpes-Maritimes: 106,26 yesterday evening, against 153,33 Wednesday September 16th. So a clear local improvement on this criterion. Let's hope that it will be confirmed in the days to come.

2. Positivity rate (number of positive cases to the PCR diagnostic tests for 100 persons tested) : 

  • -French average: 6.1% last night, compared to 5.4% on Wednesday 16 September.
  • -PACA Region average: 7.03% yesterday evening, against 7.39% Wednesday 16 September.
  • -Bouches du Rhône average: 8.20% last night, against 8.61% Wednesday 16 September.
  • -Average Alpes-Maritimes: 7,48% yesterday evening, against 8,06% Wednesday September 16th. So a local improvement on this criterion.

3. The number of reproduction (I only have the PACA regional data): it was 0.89 yesterday, against 1.01 Wednesday September 16 (it has been decreasing regularly for a fortnight). 

4. Still on the scale of the PACA region, yesterday there was a 7-day average of 975 new confirmed cases, against 1090 Wednesday 16 September and 1052 cases a fortnight ago.

5. Concerning the local hospital Covid activity :

On a regional scale, the rate of passage to the emergency room for Covid suspicions was 2.35% yesterday, 2.42% last week and 1.96% a fortnight ago.

  • -The number of Covid+ patients hospitalised in the Maritime Alps was 69 yesterday (18 at the Cannes Hospital), against 52 (thus an increasing number) on Wednesday September 16th (13 in Cannes).
  • -In Covid resuscitation (yesterday's figures at 4 p.m.): PACA: 150 patients in the ICU against 141 on Wednesday September 16, including 112 in the Bouches du Rhone (109 a week ago), 10 in the Maritime Alps (12 a week ago), and 1 at the Simone Veil Hospital of Cannes (idem a week ago). 

Clusters are found in closed environments with strong human interaction, with a dominant presence in medical-social establishments (Ehpad, hospitals and clinics), professional premises and in family or friendly gatherings.

So I maintain my positions: no denial of the seriousness of the disease, no hysteria that destroys social life and our economy. And nothing that justifies multiplying the general prohibitions that in fact confine entire activities that are strategic for us, such as events and business tourism, on which the income and jobs of hundreds of families depend. On the other hand, it is essential to better protect, to enforce strict sanitary protocols adapted to the activities and that the State - which has the power and the mission - controls and penalties for those who do wrong…”

For David Lisnard's full post: