PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has justified new restrictions in the country to limit the spread of the virus as restaurant and bar owners forced to shut down expressed anger at the measures.
The virus situation in French big cities is “serious and worrying,” Macron said in comments reported by government spokesperson Gabriel Attal on Monday.
New restrictions focus on areas where health authorities report a “rapid and significant” spreading of the epidemic, Attal said.
Bars and restaurants in Marseille, France’s second-biggest city, closed on Sunday evening for at least one week, prompting demonstrations against the government order.
Milder restrictions have been ordered in 10 other cities including Paris, with gyms shut down, public gatherings of more than 10 people banned and bars ordered to close at 10 p.m.
Finance minister Bruno Le Maire promised business owners “we will stay by your side and we will keep deploying arrangements to allow you to overcome that extraordinarily difficult moment.”
French authorities have reported a steady increase in new infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks. The country has reported a total of 31,727 virus-related deaths, one of Europe’s highest tolls.