PARIS – The French government on Thursday gave up ordering a severe lockdown for Paris and several other regions despite an increasingly alarming situation in hospitals with an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients. Instead, he announced a patchwork of new restrictions while reducing the national curfew by one hour.
Having large doses of fresh air is encouraged, which means residents of the Paris region and the north of the country can walk for as long as they want in a day, but within a 10 km radius of their homes. and with a paper authorizing the ride.
Stores, however, will feel the pinch with all non-essential outlets – but not bookstores – closing. Nothing will change in the schools, which must remain open.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the new rules, which will come into effect at midnight on Friday and will last for at least four weeks.
He also announced that the French could be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine from Friday afternoon – and that he would be getting the vaccine himself “to show that we can have complete confidence. Castex makes an exception to the age rule. , moving to the front row of people awaiting vaccination, currently reserved for people aged 75 and over or with serious health problems.
France and some other countries briefly suspended use of the vaccine over fears of blood clots, and are resuming it after the European Medicines Agency gave the green light earlier on Thursday.
Castex said France was facing a “third wave” of the pandemic, with three-quarters of new cases of the most contagious variant originating in Britain and more younger and healthier patients.
“The situation is deteriorating,” he said.
The Paris region has an infection rate of 446 per 100,000 inhabitants – up more than 23% in one week – Castex said, and intensive care units are close to saturation. Northern France has an incidence rate of 381 per 100,000. The nationwide infection rate in France is approximately 250 per 100,000 inhabitants.
But the Prime Minister insisted that France was sticking to its “third way” of fighting the virus: “pragmatic, proportional and regional”, targeting problematic areas.
The Nice region and, to the north, the Pas de Calais and the Dunkirk region, are in full block on weekends. The north, the Paris region and several others are now targeted, but with a mixture of measures of carrots and sticks.
All over France, people have been subject to a national curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two months. The curfew will now begin an hour later.
In addition, restaurants, bars, cinemas, gymnasiums, museums, theaters and concert halls have been closed for almost five months and will remain so.
The government of French President Emmanuel Macron had hoped that the measures already in place would spare the country of 67 million people from the economic, social and psychological impact of a new lockdown.
Yet confirmed infections and the demand for ICU beds have steadily increased in recent weeks. The British variant of the virus is responsible for most infections, and around 250 people die from the virus every day.
“We see people dying, we see people suffering … There is a difficult situation … and we do not feel an appropriate response,” Enrique Casalino, head of emergency at Bichat hospital in Paris, told the French channel. LCI.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned on Wednesday that the new measures announced Thursday could include lockouts in the Paris region, which is home to 12 million people, and in Hauts-de-France, the border region of Belgium in the north of France.
“A localized strategy is still a good strategy. This allows (us) to precisely and proportionately limit the spread of the virus, ”he said.
Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage on: