Marseille lockdown
© Reuters
Marseille has been put on maximum alert amid a rise in coronavirus cases nationwide
France is set to close all restaurants and bars in its second city Marseille, prompting anger from local officials.

The move, which will come into effect from Saturday, follows a recent upsurge in coronavirus cases nationwide.

France recorded more than 13,000 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a record since restrictions were eased.

But Marseille Mayor Michèle Rubirola said she was not consulted about the decision and had been left feeling "astonished and angry".


Comment: This tells us that these measures aren't because of the facts of the ground but because of a political command passed on down from upon high.


"The Marseille town hall was not consulted. Nothing in the health situation justifies these announcements," she wrote on Twitter.

"I won't allow the people of Marseille to become the victims of political decisions that no-one understands," she added.


What are the new restrictions?

The move was announced by health minister Olivier Véran on Wednesday. He said all restaurants, bars and gyms would close for at least two weeks from Saturday.

Public venues such as theatres, museums and cinemas will also have to close unless they have strict anti-virus measures in place.

Meanwhile, Mr Véran announced that restaurants and bars in Paris and 10 other cities would be forced to close at 22:00 from Monday.


Comment: The same strangely illogical order has been enforced in the UK; one could forgiven for thinking that these restrictions are a coordinated response from an, as yet, unidentified, authority that is leaning on both France and the UK.


He said Marseille had been put on "maximum alert", while Paris was at "elevated alert".

But officials in Marseille have argued that nothing justifies a total closure.

What has the reaction been?

On Thursday, the city's first deputy mayor Benoît Payan criticised the restrictions and asked the government for a 10-day reprieve to show that the city's own measures were working.

"Once again our territory is being sanctioned, punished, singled out," he said. "Our city has been put in virtual confinement without anyone having been consulted."

"The statements [from the government] are irrational," he added. "Marseille deserves better than being beaten down, or of serving as an example."

Renaud Muselier, president of the regional council that includes Marseille, said the closures amounted to a "collective punishment".

"This decision is unilateral, ill-conceived and unfair," he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Véran responded to the criticism by saying the measures were designed to protect public health. He said some city officials were given advance notice prior to the announcement.

But one restaurant owner, Laurent Catz, told the Le Figaro newspaper the decision was "catastrophic" for his business.

"We cannot ignore the health situation but it is almost a death sentence for the profession," he said. "We are still recovering and we are being shut down again."

Another restauranteur, Frédéric Leclair, added: "I have trouble understanding this decision, especially since I have a beautiful terrace where I can enforce social distancing."