Paris Cafes To Shut As Europe Confronts Second COVID-19 Wave

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 28, 2020 A restaurant employee removes tables on a terrace in Paris, on September 28, 2020, as the city is again being forced to close bars and restaurants earlier due to the health situation caused by the spread of the Covid-19 caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)


Paris bars and cafes will shut for two weeks as the city and its region were placed on maximum alert Monday, with Europe facing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the hospitalisation of President Donald Trump throwing the US election campaign into a tailspin.

France reported nearly 17,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday alone, the highest daily number since the country began widespread testing.

The shuttering of bars and cafes — seen by many as the essence of Parisian life — were “braking measures because the epidemic is moving too fast,” Paris police chief Didier Lallemant told journalists, adding that restaurants will remain open provided they respect new safety measures.

These will include making sanitising hand gel available at all dining tables, limiting patrons to six a table with at least a metre (3.3 feet) between seats, and allowing patrons to remove their masks only for eating.

Also on Monday, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said she would self-isolate for a day after learning she had met someone infected with Covid-19 last week.

Von der Leyen, who turns 62 this week, is not the first senior EU official to be quarantined in recent weeks. Last month the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, was forced to postpone a European leaders’ summit for a week after a security guard in his team tested positive.

Europe, which has recorded 235,553 deaths, is approaching a caseload of six million out of the more than 35.2 million cases officially diagnosed across the world.

The virus has killed at least 1,037,971 people worldwide according to the latest AFP tally based on official sources.

Britain remains the worst-hit European country, passing its latest milestone of 500,000 confirmed coronavirus infections on Sunday.

– Ireland, Russia hesitate –

Neighbouring Ireland for its part is mulling a nationwide lockdown after a surge of new cases.

The National Public Health Emergency Team recommended that the entire country reprise the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions imposed during the original lockdown in March.

Russia recorded 10,888 new cases on Sunday — close to a peak reached in May — but stopped short of reimposing a new lockdown.

Spain has decided partial lockdowns for two more cities, Leon and Palencia, after residents of Madrid and nine nearby towns were barred from leaving city limits for any reason other than work, school or medical and legal appointments.

While Madrid’s regional authorities have criticised the two weeks of restrictions as too stringent, healthcare experts have said they do not go far enough.

Europeans despondent over returning to restrictions they had thought were behind them can look to New Zealand’s triumph over a second wave in the Pacific island nation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that her country had “beat the virus again” and announced that restrictions in the largest city Auckland would be eased after a second Covid-19 wave was contained.

“Aucklanders and New Zealanders stuck to the plan that has worked twice now, and beat the virus again,” Ardern said.

– Mental health ‘forgotten’ –

While the ravages of Covid-19 on the physical and economic life of the planet are clear, the pandemic’s devastating effects on mental health have been widely overlooked, the World Health Organization said Monday.

A survey conducted between June and August revealed severe disruptions to mental health services in 93 countries, the WHO said ahead of a large fundraising push.

“This is a forgotten aspect of Covid-19,” WHO mental health director Devora Kestel told a virtual media briefing.

Meanwhile, as Trump began his fourth day in hospital on Monday, doctors said they would decide later in the day whether he could be discharged.

With a tough election campaign against Democratic rival Joe Biden in its final month, Trump and his advisors have sought to project a sense of continuity.

The US president, who was flown Friday to Walter Reed hospital outside Washington, released videos and photos of himself and made a drive-by appearance to supporters gathered outside the facility.

He said he had “learned a lot about Covid” by “really going to school” as he has battled the virus.


COVID-19: Kaduna Govt Seals Hotels, Restaurants For Violating Safety Protocols


The Kaduna State Government has sealed some social facilities and hotels across the state for operating against its COVID-19 safety protocols by reopening businesses.

The facilities which comprised of hotels, bars, lounges, restaurants, bakeries, and swimming pools, were shut down by the state Ministry of Business Innovation and Technology during an inspection on Friday.

In the course of the exercise, the enforcement team, led by the commissioner in charge of the ministry, Idris Nyam met customers eating in the restaurants, bakeries, and drinking inside the hotel bars.

Other violations by the hotels and restaurant operators include non-compliance to physical distancing, failure to install hand washers at the reception and other designated points, as well as failure to use face masks.

The Commissioner warned that the government will not hesitate to deal with erring or non-compliant facilities that violate the stipulated protocols.

Facebook Introduces ‘Order Food’ Feature

File Photo

Facebook on Friday announced a new feature to make it easier for users to order meals from nearby restaurants and service providers without leaving the social network.

A new “order food” feature rolled out for US users lets Facebook users order delivery or takeout from restaurant chains such as Papa John’s and Panera, and on-demand services including and DoorDash.

“People already go to Facebook to figure out what to eat by reading about nearby restaurants, and seeing what their friends say about them. So, we’re making it even easier,” read a blog post by Facebook vice president Alex Himel.

“From local spots to national chains, Facebook connects you with old favorites and new discoveries in just a few taps. You can even check out what your friends have to say about a restaurant before you order your food.”

Facebook has been testing this feature since last year and is rolling out the service to users in the United States on its desktop, iOS and Android applications, with new partners.

The move expands Facebook’s ability to keep users on its platform, with services such as money-transfer, business services and ride-hailing available from its main application or messaging services.

The world’s largest social network has more than two billion active users.


Lagos State Bans Public Smoking

The Lagos State House of Assembly in South-West  Nigeria on Monday passed a bill to prohibit smoking in designated places and vehicles in the state.

The bill which was sponsored by Gbolahan Yishawu, the lawmaker representing Eti-Osa Constituency 2 at the House, places a fine of N10, 000 or 3 months imprisonment, or both for first offenders.

The law prohibits residents of the state from smoking in public places such as schools, day-care centres, libraries, museums, hospitals, public transportation, restaurants, public toilets among others.

The law, which passed its third reading on Monday, also mandates owners of public places to place signs with the inscription; ‘No Smoking’ or symbols as part of enlightenment for smokers and would-be violators of the law.

Section 4 of the bill also states that “it shall be the duty of owners or occupiers of public places to ensure that approved signs are displayed conspicuously at each entrance, and in prominent locations throughout the premises.

The law also mandates such owners of public places to create areas far from the vicinity where people could smoke. Non-compliance by owners of public places, according to the law shall attract a fine of 100, 000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment, or other non-custodial punishment that the judge may deem fit.

In the case of a corporate organisation’s refusal to place a ‘No Smoking’ sign or symbol within its premises, any personnel in the management of the corporate body would be liable to a fine in the sum of 250, 000 Naira upon conviction. This may be a director or manager in the organisation.

According to the bill, anyone who repeatedly violates the provisions of the law, on conviction shall be liable to a fine of 50, 000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment or both. While anyone who smokes in the presence of a child shall be liable on conviction to a fine of 15, 000 Naira or 1 month imprisonment.

The law gives the state Environmental Protection Agency the powers to implement it while residents are allowed to report to the state Ministry of the Environment, any grievances against state officials who are saddled with the implementation of the law. It is however, an offence to obstruct duly authorized officers from carrying out their duties under the provision of this law.

More places may be designated by commissioners of the state, as non-smoking areas for the sake of effective implementation of the law.

Section 12 of the 16-section law that has been passed to the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, for assent