PARIS — French families took advantage Sunday of an exception to national virus lockdown measures to gather at cemeteries to mark All Saints’ Day and honor lost loved ones.
France’s government has shut down all nonessential businesses and ordered people to stay indoors for the next month to slow accelerating virus infections, hospitalizations and deaths. But cemeteries stayed open and church services were allowed for the All Saints’ holiday weekend.
Parisian Alice Crespel, who took her children to the cemetery in the historic Montmartre neighborhood, told The Associated Press, “It is very important to be with the kids and have them join their grandmother in a family reunion without taking risks.”
The main exception to this lockdown is schools, which are allowed to stay open to reduce learning gaps and allow their parents to keep working.
While the lockdown is currently scheduled to end Dec. 1, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned that Christmas “will not be a normal holiday” this year and cautioned against planning big New Year’s parties.
France reported 223 new virus-related deaths Saturday, for a total of 36,788, the world’s seventh-highest reported death toll. COVID patients now occupy 68% of France’s intensive care units, a proportion that has doubled in two weeks.