French city hardens rules as variant found

Sudip Kar-Gupta
·1-min read

France has imposed a stricter evening curfew in Marseille after the new variant of the COVID-19 virus initially found in the UK was discovered in the Mediterranean city.

Marseille joined other French cities such as Strasbourg and Dijon in having its curfew moved forward to 6pm from 8pm, and running through to 6 am the following morning. The stricter Marseille measures will start on Sunday evening.

The move came as COVID-19 related deaths and cases increased in France, which has the world's seventh-highest death toll from the coronavirus.

There were 20,177 new, confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and roughly 170 more deaths.

Authorities said one reason for the decision in Marseille was the discovery of the new variant of COVID-19.

Twenty-three people suspected of coming into contact with the new variant had tested positive for COVID, said the local health body.

The variant, which has a greater transmission rate, has been cited by the British government as the main reason for a flare-up in COVID-19 cases in the UK over the past month.

President Emmanuel Macron is battling to ensure France is not engulfed by a renewed sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, like in the UK and Germany, and is working on speeding up the country's vaccine rollout.

In Paris the 8pm to 6am curfew hours remain unchanged for now, although the government has said it will not rule out stricter measures if the situation worsens in France.