"Bienvenue en Absurdie..."
President Emmanuel Macron's announcement of at least four weeks of an all-night curfew in France's biggest cities sparked some colorful reactions — political and personal — across the country.
"Welcome to Absurdia" came from opposition leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a firebrand leader on the political left, who noted that most COVID-19 infections happen during the day, in schools and offices — not from 9 p.m.- 6 a.m., when people now won't be allowed out of their homes, or risk a 135-euro fine.
"Good night" titles French daily Libération
The decision to shut down nightlife altogether for millions of French citizens is of course also a major blow to entire sectors of the economy. Michelin-starred chef Michel Sarran told France Info public radio it was a "coup de grâce" for France's renowned culinary and hospitality sector after a steady progression of new limits had been imposed in recent weeks on bars and restaurants — first in the southern city of Marseille, and then Paris and elsewhere. Macron's announcement Wednesday evening of the all-night curfew came after the number of COVID cases skyrocketed through September in France, now rising above 20,000 per day, as part of what now appears an undeniable "second wave" of the virus across much of Europe.
As Paris daily Les Echos reported, reaction to the latest government measures have been much more pointed than six months ago when there was general support behind what was one of the world's strictest lockdowns. Senator Bruno Retailleau (on the political right) called out the government for failing to implement a rapid and effective system for testing, while others wondered whether the curfew will be enough to stave off a rise in the number of both cases and deaths, as hospitals begin to fill up as they did last March.
The situation indeed feels like déjà vu, with an extra splash of futility. Because even if the curfew manages to slow the spread, we've seen how quickly it can pick up again after the pent-up desire for human contact leads people to let their guard down, and masks off. Day and night.