Some cities, notably Marseille, are already on the list. Paris so far has avoided further restrictions since a lockdown was lifted in mid-May. But Véran said that in the last 24 hours, the capital crossed multiple thresholds that make it a maximum-risk environment: The transmission rate has risen above 250 cases per 100,000, and the percentage of those who’ve tested positive for the novel coronavirus who require intensive care is now hovering between 30 and 35 percent.
“We have only observed this threshold crossing for a few hours — we will need to confirm it in the next few days,” Véran said during a weekly news conference. “If this were to be confirmed, we would have no other choice but to place Paris and its inner suburbs in the maximum-alert category starting on Monday.”
The announcement came to the chagrin of the restaurant industry, which took a major hit in the spring when France imposed one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. After two months, the restrictions seemed to have beaten back the coronavirus to a significant degree.
A key component of that lockdown was the total closure of all bars, restaurants and cafes. The full-blown second wave France is now experiencing has many restaurateurs worried that they will not be able to survive a second shutdown.
Michel Sarran, a Michelin-starred chef from Toulouse in southern France, released a video message in advance of Véran’s announcement, anticipating a potential closure of restaurants in major cities. In a country where food is a way of life, he seemed to speak for many of his fellow restaurateurs.
“You are going to kill us,” he said.
“How can you say that establishments like mine and so many others, which accommodate around 40 people with rigorously enforced rules, are more dangerous than shopping malls or private gatherings?”
Less visible members of the food industry are also registering significant losses. On Thursday, the French catering giant Elior announced the elimination of 1,888 jobs in France in its branch devoted to corporate catering, Agence France-Presse reported.
Elected officials in Marseille, already under stricter closures, have criticized the French government for not involving them in the decision process. After Véran’s announcement Thursday, they doubled down on their outrage.
Samia Ghali, a deputy mayor of Marseille, was particularly pointed in her criticism Thursday. “Yes, we’ve asphyxiated the city,” she said told France’s BFM television.