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Paris hotels to house homeless during coronavirus pandemic

French government proposes tougher measures during national lock-down

Helen Coffey
Monday 23 March 2020 16:15 GMT
(AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Paris is turning empty hotels into temporary housing for the homeless.

With the French capital on lock-down, most hotels are sitting idle, but the French Housing Minister plans to change that, reports Agence France-Presse.

Julien Denormandie told Le Parisien that the city will be booking rooms so that homeless people can get off the streets and have a safe place in which to self-isolate during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The city has booked up 50 rooms at the CIS Paris Kellerman hotel in the 13th arrondissement, with plans afoot to increase that to 170 this week.

Hotel group Accor could also offer an extra 500 rooms in Paris and elsewhere. Rooms will be singles to help minimise contact between guests.

France has been on lockdown since 17 March, with residents told to stay in their homes for 15 days unless buying food, going to the pharmacy, going to work for those providing essential services, and brief exercise.

All non-essential commercial activity is also suspended.

New, tougher measures are now being proposed by the French government, including fining those caught flouting the quarantine rules up to €3,700 and giving repeat offenders a prison sentence of up to six months.

“By staying at home, you are saving lives,” France’s interior minister Christophe Castaner said.

Some hotels in London are also being used to house those sleeping rough during the pandemic.

Around 300 rooms will be offered to the homeless in an initial trial this weekend.

But more could be made available over the next three months, with the mayor’s office working with InterContinental Hotels Group to block book beds for the entire period at a discounted rate.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets.

He added: “Together, as a city, we will come through this incredibly challenging period.”

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