Marseille and Bordeaux, two of France’s biggest cities, faced stricter rules on Monday for beach gatherings, visiting the elderly in care homes and attendance at outdoor public events as part of efforts to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases.
In the past few weeks, France has seen one of the sharpest accelerations in the number of new cases in western Europe. Daily confirmed cases hit record levels last week.
“We will reach the point where cases are doubling every eight days,” Philippe de Mester, president of the regional health authority covering the southern city of Marseille, told a news conference.
At the peak of the first wave in the spring, new cases doubled every 3.5 days. Even so, doctors say intensive care wards in Marseille are close to full capacity.
With a week of sun forecast, single groups of more than 10 people sunbathing on Marseille beaches and parks are now banned, and school trips and student parties suspended, the head of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region said.
The measures apply until Oct. 1.
A mandatory order to wear masks in public spaces indoors and outside in Marseille was extended to 26 surrounding districts.
France on Monday reported 6,158 new cases, comfortably below the more than 10,000 new infections identified on Friday, though the seven-day moving average stayed above 8,000 for the third consecutive day.
Intensive care admissions and deaths had remained low for several weeks after cases began to increase in the summer. But both are now rising, even if still well below first wave highs, and the number of clusters in care homes is climbing.
The Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region and the southwestern region of Nouvelle-Acquitaine, which encompasses the city of Bordeaux, said care home residents would be restricted to receiving fewer visitors.
Nouvelle-Acquitaine also prohibited eating and drinking while standing in bars and both regions limited public events to 1,000 people from 5,000 previously.