Paris set for major Olympic restrictions

What will life be like for Parisians when the Olympics begin in July? The top official in charge of security says that residents should brace for QR codes and major security restrictions in parts of the capital.

The Paris Games are set to take place across the City of Light, often in temporary venues erected at historic sites such as the Eiffel Tower or the Place de la Concorde that serve as major transport hubs.

The decision to use the city’s monuments as a backdrop is part of organizers’ vision of an “iconic” Olympics, but it has many locals worried about their freedoms.

“Life won’t be as it was before,” warned Laurent Nunez, the top state security official for the densely populated capital, in an interview with AFP.

But he insisted that discussions were ongoing about how to minimise the impact of the Games on the lives of residents, notably regarding the nature of exemptions that will be issued for restricted “red zones” and “blue zones” around the venues.

“The important part is that we have opened up the number of exemptions in order to reflect the reality of people’s personal and professional lives in order not to paralyse their activity, while also upholding our rules on security,” Nunez said.

Taxi drivers with a reservation, carers working for people who live in restricted areas, or locksmiths responding to an emergency will be able to enter red zones providing they have registered online, for example.

Food delivery drivers using a motorbike or a car will not.

“The delivery of packages or meals in a vehicle is not allowed, but will be possible on foot,” explained Nunez who said exemptions will need to be requested online, with QR codes expected to be issued to successful applicants.

France’s government has already urged Parisians to avoid ordering parcel deliveries during the Games, which will run from July 26-August 11, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 28-September 8.

As well as security restrictions, Parisians have been warned to expect cramped conditions and restrictions on public transport, leading many disgruntled locals to book holidays to leave the city.

Conditions would be “hardcore”, former transport minister Clement Beaune warned last November.

“It’s not going to be like usual,” Nunez said. “There will be special lanes (for Olympic traffic), detours. But our message is that we are doing everything to ensure essential car journeys are possible.”

The City of Paris is also busy building new cycle lanes, insisting that all Olympic venues will be accessible for pedalers — part of a major pro-bike push that has transformed the capital in recent years.

© 2024 AFP