French police raid homes of ministers over handling of COVID-19
Ross Cullen in Paris


French police have searched the homes of Health Minister Olivier Veran and the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe as part of an inquiry into the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. 

Public health director Jerome Salomon, Veran’s predecessor Agnes Buzyn and former government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye were also targeted by the raids, according to French media reports.

The inquiry is in response to allegations that ministers were too slow to act and played down the importance of wearing masks at the start of the pandemic. 

The raids come the day after President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris and eight other major cities will be placed under a night-time curfew as the country battles a second wave of new COVID-19 infections. 

The curfew will be in place for at least a month and the police will be carrying out checks with the powers to impose $160 fines for breaking the curfew. 

This is by far the strictest measure to be announced since the spring lockdown to control the first wave of cases ended in mid-May. 

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire admitted the curfew will hurt the country's economy. "The new restrictions announced will seriously destabilize tens of thousands of businesses," he said. "We are aware of it. To these business leaders, I want to say to them: we will stay by your side. We are providing a massive response to a massive crisis."



The curfew will affect 20 million people – nearly a third of France's population. 

CGTN Europe asked Parisians on Thursday for their reactions to the move. 

"We can see that there is a big upsurge of COVID-19 cases in France, so either we start stacking coffins or we take real measures and I think that's a lesser evil," said Gilles.


Police will be carrying out checks with the powers to impose $160 fines for breaking the curfew. /AFP

Police will be carrying out checks with the powers to impose $160 fines for breaking the curfew. /AFP


Emilie said: "It's a pity for us because we are young and we want to have fun, but it's necessary because otherwise we won't make it and it's better than being locked down again." 

Catherine, though, doubted the new measures: "I don't know if it's effective and I think maybe we could have put resources into hospitals and strengthened other measures rather than putting the economy on hold." 

Also on Thursday, a demonstration was held nationwide by the medical sector. 

The Paris regional health agency has warned of unsustainable pressure on hospitals as the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units continues to rise. 

Front-line staff are calling for more support for healthcare workers who are now having to battle a second wave of COVID-19 infections. 

The food and drink industry is also concerned about another hit to businesses after bars were forced to close and now diners will have to leave early to get home by the 9 p.m. deadline.