France: Restaurant and bar owners throw down keys at protest over new COVID restrictions in Paris

Bar and restaurant bosses threw down their keys and poured bottles of wine on the ground as they protested new restrictions imposed on their businesses due to the pandemic in Paris on Thursday. Demonstrators gathered outside the town hall of the 11th arrondissement of the French capital in order to demonstrate their concerns over the economic impact of the move to require their establishments to close at 22:00 local time (20:00 GMT), which was announced on Wednesday. «Today we are asked to be policemen, it is not our job. There are health rules to apply, we apply them, but on the other hand, they [the Government] are bludgeoning us,» said one bar manager. Marcel Benezet, President of the Groupement National des Independants trade organisation, a group representing the independent hospitality sector expressed his concern at the prospect of the measures encouraging street drinking: «By closing the bars at 22:00, it is to put the youth on the street with all the risks that this entails.» As well as ordering bars and restaurants to close early, gyms and sports halls are to close their doors in the areas which fall into the new 'Enhanced alert' category introduced by the French Health Ministry, with private gatherings for groups of over ten people also banned. The protest took place as France saw 16,096 new COVID-19 infection cases on Thursday, a record daily figure.

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