'It’s not over': Crowds gather in tourist city despite fears of second wave

Parisians have been warned to maintain social distancing as crowds of people flock to popular areas in the city to enjoy the warming weather.

Hundreds of locals were snapped socialising on the banks of the River Seine on Tuesday, local time, despite earlier warnings from France’s health ministry and ongoing concerns of a second wave in the country.

It comes after health authorities warned the public over keeping their distance. Source: Getty

In total case numbers and deaths, France has been one of the worst hit countries in the world by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 180,900 known cases and 28,025 deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday, AEST.

In coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, France has the fifth worst record, behind Belgium, Spain, Italy, and the UK.

Images of crowds in public last week prompted the French government to ban alcohol in the densely frequented areas. It also denied a request from the mayor of Paris to reopen parks and public gardens.

However Parisians appear determined to enjoy the warming weather and in lieu of parks have fewer places to gather outdoors, likely contributing to the crowded scenes photographed on Tuesday.

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People gather and take a sun bath on the banks of the river Seine in Paris, on May 19, 2020. Source: Getty

Similar scenes last week, in which police had to break up groups of people, reportedly shocked health officials in the country.

“It’s not over. The virus continues to circulate ... In view of yesterday’s images you are referring to on the Seine riverbanks...one can understand but this can be dangerous,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran told reporters last week, according to Reuters.

It came as people celebrated the cautious unwinding of two months of confinement as France begun easing its lockdown measures which were first introduced on March 17.

At the height of the lockdown, people were only allowed to leave their home for strict reasons including to buy groceries or medicine, go to doctor's appointments, work out individually, or tend to elderly relatives. Residents were required to cary a travel permit to explain why they had left home.

Under the current easing of restrictions, groups of up to 10 people are allowed to gather outside.

Mr Veran said last week parks will remain closed “because it can be extremely tempting with the sun that we have today for people to regroup too much and not respect the 10 people limit as well as social distancing.”

Parisians seem intent on enjoying the sunshine. Source: Getty

Fears of a second wave of infections linger in France, where high schools are now reopening their doors in some regions.

According to government figures, the number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 infection declined by 4.3 per cent to 1,998 on Sunday, local time, marking the first time since March 22 that number had dropped below the 2,000 threshold.

The number of people in hospitals has fallen to about 19,000.

Both numbers – key indicators for the French health system's ability to cope with the epidemic – have been on a downtrend for four to five weeks and peaked at more than 32,000 and more than 7,000 respectively in early to mid-April. 

with Reuters

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