France says it will delay easing lockdown if necessary

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PARIS (Reuters) – France will delay easing some lockdown restrictions on COVID-19 if necessary to prevent a third wave of infections, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

France is due to reopen cinemas, theaters and museums and allow citizens to move between regions on December 15, but there are signs that it may not meet the prerequisites to enter phase two of border reduction.

“If we consider that… we need to change this second phase (of lifting the lockdowns), then of course we will,” Attal told CNews TV.

President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the issue with senior ministers on Wednesday. He originally set a target of 5,000 new infections per day and fewer than 3,000 COVID patients in intensive care before the lockdown could be relaxed.

Nationwide critical care numbers sit just over 3,000 but are steadily declining. However, the downward trend in infections has flattened, with the number of new confirmed cases rising to more than 13,000 on Tuesday.

Health officials acknowledge that the 5,000 goal is almost certainly out of reach by December 15.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Edited by Andrew Heavens, Andrew Cawthorne and Kim Coghill

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