Paris (AFP)

The French government announced on Wednesday new draconian measures against Covid-19 which caused stupor and anger in the Marseille region, and on Thursday the German city of Munich is also tightening its anti-virus restrictions.

While the coronavirus has infected more than five million people in Europe, the trend is also tightening in England: Thursday enters into force the mandatory closure at 10 p.m. of pubs, bars and restaurants.

Faced with a rise in the incidence rate of the virus in the metropolis of Aix-Marseille, in the south-east of France, and in Guadeloupe, in the French Antilles, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced measures on Wednesday very strict in these two regions, now placed in "maximum alert zone".

These measures have aroused incomprehension and anger among many elected officials and economic leaders.

- "Collective punishment" -

The president of the region, Renaud Muselier, denounced an "extremely harsh collective punishment for the economy of our territories".

The mayor of Marseille, Michèle Rubirola, expressed on Twitter his "astonishment" and his "anger".

"The violence of" Olivier Véran's "announcements is not acceptable," said his first deputy, Benoît Payan.

And the president of the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis spoke of the risk of an "economic disaster" for the region.

The city of Aix-en-Provence is also affected by the new measures.

Besides Marseille and Guadeloupe, eleven other metropolises, including Paris, have been placed in "enhanced alert zone", which implies in particular the closing of bars from 10 pm and the limitation of alcohol sales.

The gatherings will also be limited to 1,000 people, against 5,000 currently.

This measure should concern the Roland-Garros tennis tournament, which begins on Sunday, four months late, and had already planned to reduce its gauge to 5,000 spectators.

Considered a model in its management of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, Germany is also on the alert in the face of a resurgence of new infections in recent weeks.

- Restrictions in Munich -

Bavaria is particularly affected, and the Land has decided to tighten its restrictions in Munich, where the wearing of a mask in part of the city center will be compulsory from Thursday.

The right to reunite will again be limited to a circle of two families or five unrelated people, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter said.

In addition, Germany on Wednesday extended its list of regions at risk in eleven European countries including France.

In Italy, the wearing of a mask will now be compulsory 24 hours a day in the historic center of Genoa, the large port in the north-west, local authorities announced on Wednesday.

In the United Kingdom, the most heavily affected country on the European continent, new restrictions announced two days ago by Prime Minister Boris Johnson come into force on Thursday: pubs and restaurants, in which only table service will be allowed , will close from 10 p.m. in England, and teleworking will again be encouraged.

In the midst of the resurgence of the epidemic, the British government is launching its application for tracing cases of the new coronavirus on Thursday in England and Wales, four months after the date initially planned.

In Spain, nearly a million inhabitants of the capital Madrid and its outskirts have been banned since Monday from leaving their neighborhood, except for very specific reasons such as going to work or study.

- European concern -

The measures taken by several European countries reflect the authorities' concern at the increase in the number of cases of contamination.

A total of 5,000,421 cases have been recorded in Europe, and the number of deaths is 227,130.

Worldwide, the pandemic has killed more than 971,677 people since the end of December, according to a report established by AFP on Wednesday.

The United States is by far the most bereaved country.

According to the count released Wednesday night by Johns Hopkins University, the country has 201,882 deaths and a total of 6,940,721 cases.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on the population to redouble their efforts in the fight against Covid-19.

"In our four main provinces, the second wave is not happening, it has already started," he said in a speech to the nation.

In New York, after having already postponed its resumption for the first time to the end of December, the Metropolitan Opera announced on Wednesday the cancellation of its entire 2020-21 season.

After consulting with public health officials, opera decided that it would not be "safe for the Met to resume operations" until the vaccine was widely administered among the general public.

burx-plh / ybl

© 2020 AFP