France has been relaxing their COVID-19 lockdown systematically since May 2020. While infections were decreasing during the strict lockdown, now infections have started to rise rapidly again. COVID-19 hotspots or “red zones” such as capital city Paris are highly affected by the new wave of infections.
In the larger Paris Ile-de-France area, the incidence rate of infection has risen to 204 per 100,000 inhabitants. This is higher than in other hard-hit cities such as Lyon and Marseille which have already tightened restrictions again.
Ministers held two meetings to discuss the increasing infections in the country. Their decisions are to be announced in the course of September 24. Reinforcing local measures in places where viral transmission is high was one of the solutions discussed by the Ministers. Restricting alcohol sales is one such local measure which has been used before by the French Police in Paris in May 2020 to curb gatherings on canal and river banks.
A recent meeting of the Ile-de-France health authority, municipal officials and local police discussed the possibility of imposing a ban on evening alcohol sales in the capital, from 8:00 pm daily.
The ban would be effective in dispersing crowds, as people – mostly young people – have started to gather in large groups to consume alcohol in bars, pubs and restaurants. They are mostly not adhering to health guidelines, not wearing masks and breaking physical distancing recommendations. This threatens to accelerate viral transmission of the coronavirus.
There are other important reasons for limiting alcohol availability during the pandemic. As the World Health Organization has advised, these include:
- Alcohol increases the risk of infection and risk of more severe COVID-19 disease progression,
- Alcohol weakens the immune system, and
- Alcohol-related injury, disease and violence increase the burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already near or over capacity.