Macron DEFIED: French Mayor ignores President’s Covid rules – ‘Can’t be closed forever’

Macron slammed by French residents for slow EU vaccine rollout

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The mayor of Perpignan, Louis Aliot, announced he would open four museums in his city on Tuesday, in staunch defiance of Emmanuel Macron’s coronavirus restrictions. Mr Aliot announced on Monday the reopening of the four municipal museums, which have been closed since the end of October, without waiting for a possible government announcement.

He said: “We can’t remain in lockdown forever.

“Some scientists are now asking to open cultural places.

“Some places are easier than others to open and museums are one of them: these are safe places where the health protocol can be easily controlled.

“Obviously this opening will be done in compliance with health rules.

“You will have to register before coming and respect a rigid health protocol.”

The prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales, which had announced to BFMTV that it was going to file an appeal to the administrative court against Louis Aliot’s decision, has already taken legal action.

The places concerned are the Rigaud museums (fine arts) with an exhibition on the “Queens of France”, the Casa Pairal (history of Perpignan and Roussillon), the Puig Museum (medals) and the Natural History Museum.

It comes as the Minister of Culture assured early in the morning on BFMTV that museums and monuments will be the first to reopen “when we have a decline” in the epidemic.

“A museum does not open just by turning on the light in a room,” said minister Roselyne Bachelot.

“Museum directors have told us that it takes between three days and 15 days or even three weeks if we respect (…) a certain number of procedures.”

Four municipal decrees were to be signed Monday afternoon by the mayor of Perpignan to formalise the reopening.

With the gauge of 10 metres squared per visitor, the Rigaud Museum, of 1,100 metre squared open to the public, will be able to accommodate 110 people at a time.

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It came after two leading French health officials called for new restrictive measures to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, taking the opposite view of the government, which stood by its decision to not impose a new lockdown for now.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday the COVID-19 situation in France remained fragile but that a third lockdown was not needed at present, despite demands from several leading French medics for such a measure.

France is the sixth most infected country in the world in terms of COVID-19 cases, with a total of 3.27 million cases. Its death toll, at almost 78,000, is the seventh-highest globally.

“We’re still at a high plateau in France. At one point it will be too high and, to bring it down, new restrictive measures will be inevitable,” Karine Lacombe, head of infectious diseases at Paris’ Saint Antoine hospital, told France Inter radio.

Frederic Valletoux, president of the French hospital federation, went as far as to call for a new national lockdown.

“I have been calling for a new lockdown,” Valletoux, who is also mayor of Fontainebleau just south of Paris, told LCI TV.

He added that while the situation in hospitals was under control for now, it remained “very tense” in many areas.

President Macron’s government is currently sticking with its 6pm-6am national curfew rather than a full national lockdown.

The government had set targets of daily new infections lower than 5,000 on average and a total of patients in ICUs between 2,500 and 3,000 when it decided to replace the second national lockdown, that ran from October 30 to December 15, by an 8 pm curfew.

New cases dropped to around 10,000 a day early December and the number of ICU patients fell to 2,582 on January 7 but figures have crept up since then.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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