Locks on the upper Rhine will be closed at night in a bid to stem Coronavirus in Europe.
Lock operators on the upper Rhine, Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsverwaltung des Bundes (WSV), Voies navigables de France (VNF) and Électricité de France (EDF), have agreed to cease lock operations at night when there is less traffic, between 21:00 hrs and 05:00 hrs.
All locks between Kembs and Iffezheim are affected by this measure.
'As a result of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, from which France and especially Alsace are currently suffering, the locks on the upper Rhine will be closed at night,' said the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR).
'This measure has been taken to protect the health of lock personnel and to ensure that lock operations can be maintained over the longer term because, notwithstanding rigorous precautionary and organisational measures, lock operational personnel on the upper Rhine have become ill and are currently unavailable to operate the locks.'
Locks will reopen at night once special protective measures for lock personnel are no longer required and enough lock operating staff are available.
Traffic control centres and reporting points on the Rhine will remain in operation.
Lock operators will ensure that enough berths are available for vessels arriving at the locks during night-time.
The night-time closure of the locks will mean increased journey times for a small number of vessels, said CCNR. The measures are not expected to jeopardise logistics chains and the public will continue to be supplied as the locks will continue to operate 16 hours a day and at times of high traffic volume.