Paris is set to go into a month-long lockdown as France braces itself for a third wave of Covid-19, amid soaring case numbers.
From midnight on Friday (19 Mar), 21 million people in 16 areas of the country will be placed under lockdown measures, which will not be as strict as the previous lockdown.
35,000 new Covid infections with 24 hours
The fears come after the country recorded more than 35,000 new infections within the past 24 hours, sparking Prime Minister Jean Castex to say “a third wave” was looking increasingly likely.
Health Minister Olivier Véran revealed that 1,200 people are in intensive care in Paris, which is more than at the peak of the second wave in November 2020.
The new lockdown measures will see non-essential businesses close, inter-regional travel banned, and anyone who is travelling more than 10 kilometres from home or in the evening will be required to fill out a form explaining the purpose of their trip.
Essential shops will remain open, as well as schools and hairdressers, if they follow a “particular sanitary protocol”.
A nationwide curfew from 6pm to 6am every day will remain in place, as it has been for the last two months.
‘The situation is critical’
Speaking after a visit to the Hospital of Poissy and Saint-Germain-en-Laye in Ile-de-France on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron blamed the third major coronavirus wave on “the famous British variant”, which accounts for around 73 per cent of all new cases in France.
“The situation is critical. It’s going to be very hard until mid-April,” he said.
The lockdown arrives as the French Government continues to face criticism over its slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
France will resume vaccinating using the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab following an announcement from regulator European Medicines Agency (EMA) that it is fit for use. The jab was suspended when a number of people in Europe reported blood clots developing after the vaccine was administered.