Curfew leaves Paris pizzeria boss asking 'what help will I get?'

PARIS (Reuters) - Manager Laurent Jespas' tough year just got tougher. Turnover at his Parisian pizza restaurant was hammered by a three-month coronavirus lockdown in the spring, then came early closing, and now a nightly curfew.

All of which leaves him asking: "What help are we going to get for our fixed expenses?"

President Emmanuel Macron ordered the nightly curfew in Paris and the surrounding area, as well as eight other cities, from Saturday to tackle the surging rate of infection in coronavirus hotspots. The curfew will run from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

With more than 20,000 new infections daily and hospitals once again creaking under pressure, now was not the time for conviviality, the president said.

The curfews are expected to be in place until Dec. 1.

Jespas said the dinner sitting represented nearly two-thirds of his diner's daily receipts, and that on a typical night his restaurant only started filling up around 8 p.m.

"So you can see that we'll lose at least 70% of what we make in the evening, and that's being optimistic," he said.

Macron said the curfew would mean no meals in restaurants, no parties, no cinema trips after 9 p.m. Private gatherings should be limited to six people.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire promised more government help for companies in the hospitality industry to get through the curfew. He said companies would be exempt from their social charges if revenues were down more than 50%.

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The head of the Paris regional health authority on Thursday described the infection curve as "vertical" and said intensive care units would come under heavy pressure in the next 10 days.

Even so, the new restrictions split opinion amongst young people.

"Of course we'll reduce our social life but I'm not going to stop it altogether otherwise we'll just do nothing," said 22-year-old Lea Beaujouan. "I'll adapt, I'll come earlier."

Nathanael Koffi, 25, said the measures would prove worthwhile if the spread slowed dramatically as a result.

Story continues

"A month of sacrifice is not awful," he said.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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