The French government on Friday declared Paris and Marseille, as well as surrounding areas, as high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities powers to impose measures to combat the pandemic, according to reports.
On Thursday, France reported more than 2,500 new infections for the second consecutive day, a consistent spread not seen since mid-April. The government has empowered local authorities to limit the movement of people and vehicles, access to public transport and public buildings, and public spaces such as bars and restaurants, Reuters reported.
The cities already have mandated face masks in busy public areas.
The heightened measures follow a move by Britain to place France on a list for 14-day mandatory quarantines on all arrivals starting Saturday, largely due to the spike in infections. The new “red zone” status on major French cities could see other nations impose similar travel restrictions.
More than 500,000 Britons are holidaying in France — and the announcement is likely to lead many to cut their trips short, German outlet DW News reported.
France's junior minister for European affairs, Clement Beaune, said it was "a British decision we regret and which will lead to a reciprocal measure."
The travel restrictions would cause France's struggling tourism industry to crater.
Speaking on France Inter radio, senior health official Jerome Salomon said that “the situation is deteriorating week to week.” He warned that clusters emerge every day following family reunions, big parties, and similar events during summer holidays. He also warned there were "more and more people arriving in hospitals" and authorities need to react.