The mayor of Paris has described as “inhumane” plans to force the city into weekend lockdowns to combat the continuing spread of Covid-19.
Anne Hidalgo has vehemently opposed government plans to shut down the city and its suburbs at the end of the week, saying its residents, most of whom live in apartments with no outside space, “need a horizon” and have to be able to escape to outside spaces such as parks, gardens and riverside areas.
“These places are vital for us to breathe in our city,” she added stressing that it was safer for Parisians to be outside rather than cooped up inside flats and offices.
The idea of a weekend lockdown was “a proposal that is difficult, hard and even inhumane”, she added.
“Very many residents of Paris, and even if it’s not my direct responsibility, areas like Seine-Saint-Denis, live in cramped apartments without any outside space, sometimes even several generations under the same roof. We know that these residents have already paid a heavy price because of this epidemic.
“We know that the coronavirus is transmitted more in closed and badly ventilated places. Outside, there is less risk of catching Covid, especially if one wears a mask and respects the protection measures.”
Hidalgo said the priority was prevention and demanded the government speed up the vaccination programme. She said she was especially concerned about the city’s students, “whose health, including their mental state, is continually worsening”, and proposed opening public buildings such as museums, theatres and municipal centres where they could study away from home.
Last weekend, Dunkirk, Nice and 63 towns and villages around the Alpes-Maritimes were put under lockdown from 6pm on Friday to 6am on Monday after a surge in Covid-19 infections.
France has 3,544 people in intensive care with Covid, a rise of 52 patients compared with the previous week. Figures released on Monday showed there were 379 deaths in the previous 24 hours. The number of cases is rising, and stands at an average of more than 21,000 a day.
The latest figures given by the French health ministry before the weekend showed that just under 3 million people had received one dose of vaccine, amounting to just 4.43% of the population. Just under 1.6 million – 2.36% of the population – have had both doses. France has received almost 8m doses of various vaccines.
The CovidTracker websites estimates that at the current rate of vaccinations, it will take until 23 July 2023 to inoculate the entire French population.