French police raid the homes of senior government and health officials to investigate into their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister Olivier Véran and director of the national health agency, Jérôme Salomon’s homes were searched on Thursday, 15th October.
It was after the court launched an inquiry earlier this year into the handling of the pandemic by the government. They received criticism over shortage of equipment and a slow response rate. Cases of alleged negligence by ministers and other government officials came in the course of the court’s duties. In order for these claims to be backed up there needs to be evidence for officials knowingly failing to take obvious steps that would have saved lives.
French media reports Prime Minister Jean Castex and precursor Edouard Philippe and Mr Véran’s precursor, Agnès Buzyn are under investigation.
France imposes new policies of night-time curfews in nine cities including Paris. It will be implemented from Saturday and enforced by 12,000 police authorities.
“This means at 21:00 everyone must be at home and, without exception, every place, business or public service open to the public will be shut,” Mr Castex said on Thursday.
The situation in France
After 22,951 cases were confirmed on 14th October, Mr Macron said, “We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus”
He added that this Covid-19 outbreak is different from the one in spring since the virus has now spread to all parts of France. The first spread was contained after a national lockdown was introduced. Mr Macron said that the new measures aim to reduce daily cases to approximately 3,000.
Since August the number of cases reported has increased drastically because bars, restaurants, schools and universities reopened. Foreign tourists were allowed to visit as part of an effort to boost the weak economy.
New measures implemented
The curfew will be followed for a minimum of four weeks in Paris and its suburbs, as well as in Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Toulouse, Grenoble and Montpellier, from 21:00 till 06:00. Mr Macron’s government will seek to extend the curfew to six weeks.
There is however a doubt as to how effective the curfew may prove to be. “People were mainly going out to eat out which they will continue to do… until 9pm,” Lou Mielot, a student at the University of Lyon.
“This will create restaurants that are full from 7pm to 9pm, [where people] won’t be able to keep a safe distance,” she added.
President Macron expressed his understanding towards a curfew being a hard thing for people to follow, saying that residents will need a valid reason to be outside their homes during the curfew hours. Anyone found breaking the curfew will be fined €135 (£121).
Businesses affected by the new rules will be permitted state aid. The companies in curfew areas will be asked to shift towards having employees work from home for at least part of the week. President Macron had already suggested “tele-working” for two or three days a week.