Thousands fled Paris Thursday night causing 430 miles of traffic jams in and around the French capital as residents evacuated just before a nationwide stay-at-home order was to take effect to stem a second surge of infections from the novel coronavirus.
As of midnight Parisian time, people were ordered to stay at home except for essential work or medical reasons, resulting in many relocating to more rural areas to wait out the month-long lockdown, the BBC reported.
Video posted to Twitter showed never-ending streams of crawling headlights on every road in every direction. There also were reports of restaurants jammed with diners enjoying a last meal out for the time being. Heavy traffic also was reported in and around the cities of Lyon and Bordeaux.
Some of the traffic was attributed to people returning to Paris with speculation that residents were seeking to get home before a school holiday period ends with the Catholic All Saints Day on Sunday.
Schools were to remain open, but mask requirements were extended to those as young as six. Adults, however, needed written permission to venture outside for shopping, medical care or exercise, the Daily Mail reported.
France has had the fifth-most reported infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the flu-like COVID-19 respiratory illness, more than 1.3 million, and the seventh-most deaths, according to worldometers.info.
It has seen an almost uninterrupted rise in its seven-day moving average of new daily infections since early August, reaching 40,523 on Thursday. In the spring, it reached a high of just under 4,500.
It’s seven-day average of deaths peaked at 975 on April 8 before sharply falling to less than 10 in July. Its fatalities have begun another steady rise since early September, reaching 259 on Thursday.