France’s virus rebound: Marseille fights against closures

Angry restaurant and bar owners are demonstrating in Marseille to challenge a French government order to close all public venues as of Saturday to battle resurgent virus infections

MARSEILLE, France — Angry restaurant and bar owners are demonstrating in Marseille to challenge a French government order to close all public venues as of Saturday to battle resurgent virus infections.

The government argues that hospitals in this Mediterranean city are under strain and the closures are the only way to stem the spread while avoiding new lockdowns. The French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is under similar orders.

The central government also ordered less severe new restrictions for a dozen other cities, including Paris, where infections and hospitalizations are growing but the rate of infection per 100,000 people is lower than Marseille or Guadeloupe.

Rallied by a union of hospitality businesses, crowds protested Friday in front of a Marseille courthouse, and some business owners threatened to defy the closure order.

The president of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region that includes Marseille, Renaud Muselier, said he would file an urgent legal complaint Friday protesting actions “restricting the exercise of the freedom to do business … in a disproportionate way,” according to local media reports.