Defense Council ministers are due to meet on Wednesday, January 13 to consider new measures to tackle the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. They will also discuss plans to tackle the new British variant, which is spreading.
The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, and the president of the governmental advisory body The Scientific Council have already declared that France “should probably be worried about the news. [UK] variant ”and“ do everything to slow down and limit ”its spread.
Read more: British variant Covid-19: France runs to slow its spread
The new British variant – first detected in the UK in September 2020 and first detected in France in Tours in December – is estimated to be 50 to 75% more contagious than the previous variant of the virus.
Suggested decisions ministers could take include:
- Curfew extended to 6:00 p.m. nationwide.
Currently, it starts at 8:00 p.m. in most departments, except 25 in the east and southeast, where the start time has already been moved to 6:00 p.m. This is considered the most likely option.
Read more: The curfew has progressed in more regions of France thanks to the discovery of a new cluster
- Do nothing at the national level.
This would mean that power would revert to local prefects, who could extend the curfew in their areas if the virus spreads too quickly locally. This option is considered unlikely because the government has said it is ready to act.
- Force another full lockout.
It could also take the form of a regional or partial lockdown in certain areas or times – for example, on weekends, according to a source in the Prime Minister’s Office. Currently, a full national lockdown is considered unlikely.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Monday January 11 that a new full lockdown had been ruled out “at this stage”, but did not say whether that would continue to be the case.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the country should “not rule out a third lockdown as a last resort” but that for now the figures “suggest that a curfew is sufficient,” the press service said. BFMTV.
Nothing has been decided yet, but the Minister of Health is expected to make an announcement on the new measures at a press conference on Thursday, January 14.
“More information for appropriate measures”
Ain MP Damian Abad – and chairman of Les Républicains party – urged the government for “more clarity on the reality of the broadcast of the British variant” and demanded that it “produce updates” on Covid-19 restrictions in parliament every two months.
He also has told the press service FranceInfo that we need [more] information to take the appropriate action ”, and said he“ wants to maintain the curfew, because it is always better to avoid the lockdown, because the lockdown has absolutely dire economic, social and psychological consequences ”.
Mr. Abad also called for an “acceleration” of the country’s vaccination campaign and “increased vigilance with curfews at 6 pm in the most affected departments”.
He said France would “definitely need to extend the state of health emergency” too.
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