The French government imposed a one-month lockdown on Paris and parts of northern France after a stalled vaccine rollout and the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced the president, Emmanuel Macron, To change course.
Since late January, when he defied calls from scholars and some members of his government to shut down the country, Macron has said he will do whatever is needed to keep the second-largest economy in the eurozone as open as possible. However, this week we ran out of options completely France Other European countries also briefly suspended the use of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that France It was in the grip of the third wave, as the malignant type was first detected in Britain and now accounts for around 75% of cases. The intensive care wards are under severe stress, especially in Paris, where the infection rate exceeds 400 per 100,000 inhabitants. The epidemic is getting worse. “Our responsibility now is not to let it slip out of our control,” Castex told a news conference.
France reported 35,000 new cases on Thursday and the number of Covid patients in intensive care in Paris was greater than it was at the height of the second wave. Four weeks, the time needed to have sufficient effect for measures. [It is] The time it will take to reach the bottom line in vaccinating the most vulnerable. “
The lockdowns will start from midnight Friday in the 16 provinces in France worst affected which, with the exception of one on the Mediterranean, form a corridor from Calais to the capital. Barbers, clothing stores and furniture stores will have to close, although bookstores and other stores selling basic commodities can remain open.
Schools will remain open and people will be allowed to exercise outdoors within a 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) radius of their homes. No travel will be permitted from the most affected areas without a compelling reason. The prime minister said, “Go outside, but not to party with friends.”
Castex said France will resume vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency confirmed it was safe. And in his quest to boost public confidence in the vaccine, which is critical if France is to hit its targets, Castex said he will get the vaccine on Friday. He said, “I am confident that the public’s confidence in the vaccine will be restored,” despite his admission that it may take some time.
Although Macron has fallen short of demanding a nationwide lockdown, the new restrictions could extend to other regions if needed and could slow the country’s economic recovery. The Paris region is home to nearly a fifth of the population and accounts for 30% of economic activity.
The nationwide night curfew has been in effect since mid-December, although it will start an hour later, at 7 pm. Castex said the government did not regret not having shut down earlier. It was the right decision in January. We had an unbearable lockdown of three months. Well, we didn’t. “
Not everyone agrees. In the intensive care unit of a private hospital on the outskirts of Paris, doctors have expressed their resignation because they have, once again, had to deal with the overcrowded wards. “We came back here again,” said ward chief Abed Wedad.