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Europe is using a curfew to fight the virus

PARIS (AP) – As the setting winter sun sets over the French Champagne region, the countdown clock begins.

Workers stop pruning the vines as the light fades around 4:30 p.m., leaving them 90 minutes to get out of the cold, change into their work clothes, get into their cars, and approach the home before 6 p.m. time for coronavirus.

Forget about socializing after work with friends, kids’ clubs after school or shopping in the evening after quick trips for the most important things. The police on patrol demanded good reasons from people who were taken nearby. For those without them, the threat of fines for interruptions in the evening increasingly makes life outside the weekend to work and not play.

“Life stops at 6 pm,”

; says champagne maker Alexander Pratt.

In an attempt to repel the need for a third nationwide blockade, which will further inspire Europe’s second-largest economy and jeopardize more jobs, France instead chooses a creeping curfew. Large chunks of eastern France, including most of its regions bordering Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, face traffic restrictions from 6am to 6am.

The rest of France can quickly follow suit, losing two extra hours of freedom, enough for residents to maintain a bare social life.

Until a few weeks ago, night time did not begin until 8 pm in the Pratt region, Marne. Customers still stopped buying bottles of his family’s bubble wine on the way home, he said. But when the break time was extended to 18 hours to slow down viral infections, the drinkers disappeared.

“We don’t have anyone now,” Pratt said.

The village, where pensioner Jerome Bruno lives alone in the Burgundy wine region, is also in one of the zones for 6 pm. The 67-year-old says his solitude weighs heavier, with no opportunity for early evening drinks, snacks and chats with friends, the so-called “apero” meetings, so loved by the French, which were hasty but still feasible when it started. curfew Two hours later.

“In the evening at 18:00 we can no longer go to see friends for a drink,” said Bruno. “Now I spend my days not talking to anyone except the baker and some people on the phone.”

The introduction of 6 pm nationwide is among the options the French government is considering in response to growing infections and the spread of a particularly contagious variant of the virus, which has spread across the UK, where new infections and virus deaths have jumped.

Prime Minister Jean Castex may announce an extension of the curfew on Thursday night, as well as other restrictions on fighting the virus in a country that has seen more than 69,000 confirmed virus deaths.

The earlier curfew fights the transmission of viruses “precisely because it serves to limit the social interactions that people may have at the end of the day, for example in private homes,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

Curfew at night has become the norm in all parts of Europe, but curfews from 18:00 to 06:00 in 25 regions of eastern France are the most restrictive in the 27 countries of the European Union. All evening classes start later and often end earlier.

The curfew in Italy is open from 22:00 to 5:00, as is the curfew on Friday evening to Sunday in Latvia. The French-speaking regions of Belgium have a curfew from 22:00 to 6:00, while in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium the hours are from midnight to 5 am.

People who leave for Hungary between 20:00 and 5:00 in the morning must be able to show written proof to the police from their employers that they are either working or traveling to work.

There is no curfew in Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Sweden, Poland or the Netherlands, although the Dutch government is considering whether curfew would delay the new cases of COVID-19.

In France, critics of the 6 p.m. curfew say earlier times actually shrink people after work when they congregate on public transport, block roads and shop for groceries in a narrow window at peak hours before returning home.

Women’s rugby coach Felicia Gino says talks at peak hours in Marseille have become a nightmare. The city in southern France is among the places where the more contagious version of the virus has begun to flare up.

“It’s a quarrel, so anyone can go home by 6 pm,” Gino said.

In the historic city of Besançon, the fortress city that was the hometown of the author of “Les Misérables” Victor Hugo, the owner of the music store Jean-Charles Vallee says that the deadline of 18 hours means that people no longer stop after work. to play the guitars and other instruments he sells. Instead, they rush home.

“People are completely demoralized,” Valley said.

In Dijon, a French city known for its spicy mustard, working mother of two Celine Burdin says her life has shrunk to “dropping out of school and going to work, then going home, helping the children with homework. and prepares dinner. ‘

But even this cycle is better than repeating the blockade of France at the start of the pandemic, when schools were also closed, Burdin said.

“If my children don’t go to school, it means I can’t work anymore,” she said. “It was terribly difficult to be stuck in the house for almost 24 hours a day.”


Leicester reports from Le Pecq, France. AP journalists across Europe have contributed.


Follow the AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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