Some 20 million French people are preparing to spend their first evening under a new Covid-19 curfew.

The measure was imposed after a surge in new coronavirus cases.

The 9pm to 6am curfew came into force at midnight on Friday in the Paris region and eight other large cities, affecting nearly a third of the country's population.

People will need a certificate for permitted activities, such as travel to or from work, for medical attention, to visit a dependent relative or to walk a dog.

Those who do not comply risk a fine of €135, while repeat offenders could face fines of up to €3,750. 

Some 12,000 police officers and gendarmes, in addition to municipal police teams, will be deployed to enforce the curfew.

Restaurant owners, for whom the second part of the evening represents an important part of turnover, have complained about the measure.

"Closing at 9pm will have no effect (on the epidemic). They're not attacking it in the right way," said Gerard, the manager of a Toulouse restaurant.

The French government has defended the measure as the only way to avoid a lockdown, at a time when indicators assessing the coronavirus epidemic, such as deaths and hospitalisations, are deteriorating across Europe.

French health authorities on Friday recorded more than 25,000 new coronavirus cases, with 178 deaths.

The curfew measure, which comes just ahead of a two-week school holiday, contains no travel restrictions, raising the prospect that huge numbers of families will flee cities for the country.

Scheduled to last at least four weeks, the curfew could be extended if the epidemic does not show signs of abating. President Emmanuel Macron has already mentioned the date of 1 December.


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Italy's Lombardy region tackles second wave of virus

The Italian region of Lombardy, the first European epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, has ordered all bars to shut at midnight tonight as it battles a second wave of the virus.

All amateur sporting events have also been put on hold in the wealthy northern region where the first cases of Covid-19 in Europe emerged in February.

Under the new restrictions that will stay in effect until 6 November, bars will only be able to serve customers seated at tables after 6pm, and the sale of takeaway alcohol is also banned after that time.

Italy registered 10,925 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours,

Lombardy, the most populous region of Italy, has also prohibited the consumption of food and drink in all public outside areas under the new rules.

Italy registered 10,925 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the country's health ministry said on Saturday, up from the previous record of 10,010 cases posted on Friday.

There were also 47 Covid-related deaths on Saturday, down from 55 the day before.

Lombardy, the hardest-hit area in Italy, is mostly targeting young people, with restrictions on sport, nightlife and education - it has now called for schools to alternate online and in-person lessons.

The latest order also bans visits to old people's homes unless there is authorisation from medical officials there. 

Italy's second-worst affected region of Campania in the south has also introduced new measures, including the controversial closure of schools as well as bans on parties and funeral processions.

The government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last week made the wearing of masks compulsory outdoors and extended a state of emergency until 31 January.

According to the Italian press, Mr Conte is also considering following France in imposing a nighttime curfew.

Austria records new daily record of Covid infections

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, his ministry has said, as the country also posted a new daily record for infections.

Mr Schallenberg could have contracted coronavirus during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman told the APA news agency.

"He has not presented any symptoms so far," he said.

The minister has cancelled a trip planned for the coming days to Britain, Denmark, Greece and Cyprus.

All members of the conservative government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will be tested as a precaution.

Austria reported a new high of 2,300 cases on Saturday.