PARIS (AP) – As the waning winter sun sets over France’s Champagne region, the countdown begins.
Workers stop pruning vines when the light disappears around noon. 16:30 and leaves them 90 minutes to get in from the cold, change out of their work clothes, hop in their cars and zoom home before a coronavirus exit at.
Forget about after work hanging out with friends, after-school clubs for kids, or doing some evening shopping in addition to quick trips for the essentials. Police on patrol demand valid reasons from people seen outside and around. For those without them, the threat of rising fines for curfews increasingly makes life outside of weekends all work and no play.
Trying to avert the need for a third nationwide shutdown that will further prevent Europe’s second largest economy and jeopardize more jobs, France chooses instead of insidious curfews. Large clumps in eastern France, including most of its regions bordering Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, live below 1 p.m. 18:00 to After 12 hours, curfews are the longest anywhere in the 27 nations of the European Union.
From Saturday, the rest of France will follow suit. On Thursday, the Prime Minister announced an extension of the curfew at
French stores must close at 18 Outdoor activities stop with the exception of quick walks for pets. Workers need employer notes to commute or move around at work after curfew.
Those who have lived with the longer curfew over the past few weeks say it is often bad for business and for what was left of their anemic social lives during the pandemic.
Until a few weeks ago, that curfew did not kick in until 6 p.m. 20 in the Prats region, Marne. Customers still stopped to buy bottles of his family’s sparkling wines on the way home, he said. But when the cut-off time was advanced to kl. 18 to curb viral infections, the drinkers disappeared.
“Now we have none,” said Prat.
The village, where pensioner Jerome Brunault lives alone in the Burgundy wine region, is also in one of the zones already closing at 18.00 The 67-year-old says his loneliness weighs heavier without the possibility of drinks in the evening, nibbles and chats with friends, the so-called “apero” gatherings that were so loved by the French that were hurried but still feasible when curfews started two hours later.
“With the curfew at 18 we can not go to friends for a drink anymore, ”said Brunault. “I now spend my days not talking to anyone except the baker and some people over the phone.”
By extending the curfew at 18 nationwide for at least 15 days, the government aims to curb infections in the country that have seen over 69,000 known virus deaths. It also wants to slow down the spread of a particularly contagious virus variant that has swept across neighboring Britain, where new infections and virus deaths have risen.
An earlier curfew fights virus transmission “precisely because it serves to limit social interactions that people may have at the end of the day, for example in private homes,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
Curfews elsewhere in Europe all start later and often end earlier.
The curfew in Italy runs from kl. 22 to kl. 5, like Friday night to Sunday morning curfew in Latvia. Regions in Belgium that speak French have starting conditions from kl. 22 to kl. 6, while the hours are in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium midnight to kl.
People out between 20 and at 5 in Hungary must be able to show the police written proof from their employers that they are either working or commuting.
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 imposing a curfew would delay new COVID-19 cases.
In France, critics of the curfew say at 18, that in the past, people actually squeeze more after work when they pile up on public transportation, clog roads, and shop for groceries in a narrow rush window before they have to be home.
Women’s rugby coach Felicie Guinot says negotiations on rush hour traffic in Marseille have become a nightmare. The city of southern France is among the places where the more contagious virus variant has begun to flare up.
“It’s a fight, so everyone can be home at 18, ”said Guinot.
In the historic Besançon, the fortified city that was the hometown of “Les Misérables” author Victor Hugo, music store owner Jean-Charles Valley says the deadline at 18 means people no longer come by after work to play guitars and other instruments he sells. Instead, they rush home.
“People are completely demoralized,” Valley said.
In Dijon, the French city known for its sharp mustard, the mother of two, Celine Bourdin, works to narrow her life to “dropping children off at school and going to work, then going home, helping children with homework and prepare dinner. “
But even that cycle is better than a repeat of France’s lockdown at the start of the pandemic, when schools also closed, Bourdin said.
“If my kids don’t go to school, it means I can no longer work,” she said. “It was terribly difficult to be stuck in the house for almost 24 hours a day.”
Leicester reported from Le Pecq, France. AP journalists across Europe contributed.
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