Boutiques in the centre of Paris shut early and shoppers hurried home to meet a new 8pm curfew that took effect on Tuesday.
“I completely lost track of time and didn’t realise it was so late,” said Jun, 40, who was in the Opera district just before curfew. “I’m going to head home.”
Around the usually bustling shopping district, shop fronts were dark and of the few people on the streets, most were heading towards metro stations, reports Reuters.
Tuesday morning had brought new freedoms for people across France because it was the end of a stay-at-home order which had meant that around the clock, people could only venture out for a limited time and for essential trips, to shop, or to exercise.
Now, that has been replaced by the nightly curfew from 8pm until 6am. People can only go out for work, on official business, or for medical reasons.
Officials have warned that they will be strictly enforcing the new rules and anyone breaking curfew is liable for a €135 (US$164) fine. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin joined a police patrol on Tuesday evening to check that people were complying.
“The government has decided to be particularly tough on unlawful parties,” he said.
Infection rates in France have declined sharply since the peak of the second wave last month.
But scientists are warning of the risk of a third wave of infections if people let down their guard during the Christmas and New Year holidays.