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Southern French city rebels against COVID shutdown

Local officials say earlier restrictions, including early closing hours for bars and a ban on student parties, were working and that the latest round of curbs was premature.

“We’re in complete despair. When they shut us down, they humiliate us,” said restaurateur Bernard Marty.

“This doesn’t just penalize the restaurateur behind the till. It’s an entire sector plunged into crisis: suppliers, event organizers, discotheques. Do they expect us to die in silence?”

BREWING REBELLION

Renaud Muselier, president of the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, which includes Marseille, said a legal injunction seeking a reprieve would be filed.

As France and other European countries try to smother the second wave of infections, Prime Minister Jean Castex said late on Thursday that he could not rule out targeted lockdowns . France, he said, faced a race against time.

In Paris, a notch below Marseille on “reinforced alert,” bars and restaurants will have to shut from 10 p.m. and sports halls and gyms will be closed to the public.

The tightened restrictions have split public opinion with a groundswell of frustration bubbling up.

Comedian Nicolas Bedos, a household name, urged citizens to revolt.

“Let’s live life to the full, hug each other, kick the bucket, get fevers, cough, recover, life is too short an interlude to enjoy it reluctantly,” he wrote on Twitter.

Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said the government would act to cover the fixed costs of bars and restaurants during the shutdown. Partial unemployment schemes would guarantee employees receive their full salary, she added.

“We have to act now to avoid finding ourselves in the same situation we experienced in March,” Borne told CNews. (Reporting by Noemie Olive; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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