France imposed Covid-19 travel restrictions on Friday morning, which will last until at least December 1. Under the new rules people will need a certificate to move around and travel between regions is forbidden.
Thursday was also one of the last few days for people to return to their homes after France’s school half-term, which ends after the All Saints’ holiday this weekend.
Despite the heavy restrictions on travel that came into place at midnight on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron assured French citizens that people will be allowed by the authorities to return to their homes by Sunday evening.
“At the moment, it is impossible to tell for sure the traffic jam was a consequence of the lockdown or [people returning from] holidays,” a spokesperson for the Paris region traffic authority told CNN.
The official said the traffic jam was in both directions, stretching in and out of Paris. “It is too early to confirm Parisian people are fleeing the capital,” the spokesperson added. The traffic authority said the congestion was not the worst ever recorded in the region.
University of Texas Professor Michael Webber posted a video of the traffic on Twitter.
“Traffic is barely moving in every direction as far as the eye can see. Lots of honking and frustrated drivers,” he wrote.
France’s autumn lockdown will be more relaxed than its first lockdown in the spring. Schools will remain open and people will be allowed to visit care homes and work in offices.
But non-essential businesses, restaurants and bars will be closed. Macron warned that by mid-November all ICU beds would be taken by coronavirus patients unless a “brake” was put on infections.
France has reported more than 1.3 million coronavirus cases in total.