France lockdown: Prime Minister announces local restrictions
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Parts of France have been plunged back into lockdown following yet another rise in coronavirus cases amid an appallingly slow vaccination programme and lack of recent restrictions. France reported 35,000 new cases on Thursday, with more Covid patients in intensive care in Paris than at the peak of the second wave.
Another 268 people have also died, bringing the country’s total death toll to 91,679.
The French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday the country was now in a third wave.
He said: “The epidemic is getting worse. Our responsibility now is to not let it escape our control.”
He added: “The moment has come to go further, with more demanding restrictions where things are most critical.”
Health Minister Oliver Véran added: “We really hope that with these braking measures we will pass the peak of this wave and on the other side of this wave we will find spring and unlike last year the protection of the population through vaccination.”
Mr Castex said the country will resume vaccinating people with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from Friday, March 19.
The European Medicines Agency announced this week that the vaccine, created in the UK, is safe for use after reports of some recipients developing blood clots.
The EMA has said it “cannot rule out definitively” a link between “a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious blood clotting disorders” and the vaccine, though investigations were ongoing.
Is France in lockdown again?
Sixteen regions of France will go into lockdown on Friday, including Paris.
The regions are largely concentrated in the north, from Calais down to Paris, but there are also areas in the Mediterranean and the south of the country included in the new restrictions.
The lockdown will begin at midnight on Friday, and will be less harsh than previous lockdowns.
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Schools will remain open and some shops, such as those selling essential goods and book shops, will be permitted to stay open.
However, hairdressers and other close contact services will be shut down, as well as restaurants and bars.
Travelling outside of your area is also not permitted, and the national curfew will be brought forward an hour to 7pm.
The measures will be in place for an initial four weeks, until Sunday, April 18, although this will be open to review.
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