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French city of Marseille gets tougher curfew as new COVID-19 variant discovered By Reuters

© Reuters. A man wearing a protective face mask walks near the Old Port in Marseille

PARIS (Reuters) – France has imposed a stricter evening curfew in Marseille after authorities said the new variant of COVID-19 initially found in the UK had been discovered in the Mediterranean city.

Marseille joins other French cities such as Strasbourg and Dijon in having its curfew moved forward to 6 p.m. from 8 p.m., and running through to 6 a.m. the following morning. The stricter Marseille measures will start on Sunday evening.

Authorities said that one of the reasons for the decision in Marseille was the discovery of the new variant of COVID-19. Local police said 21 people had tested positive for the new variant, with these new cases having been found within a family cluster.

The variant, which has been analysed as having a greater transmission rate, has been cited by the British government as the main reason for a flare-up in COVID-19 cases in the UK over the past month.

President Emmanuel Macron is battling to ensure France is not engulfed by a renewed sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, as has recently been the case in the UK and Germany, and is working on speeding up the country’s vaccine rollout.

For now, curfew hours in Paris have not changed, running from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., though the government has said it will not rule out stricter measures if the COVID situation worsens in France.

France has the seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world.

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