Prime minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that Covid-19 variants mean a “third wave” of infections in the country was looking increasingly likely. The new rules means that schools will remain open but all non-essential shops will have to close. However, Prime Minister Castex said the measures will not be as strict as the previous lockdown in summer, with people allowed to exercise outdoors within 10km of their home. People are not allowed to travel to other parts of the country unless they have a valid reason, and those in the affected areas will have to fill out a form to explain why they have left their homes.
France’s nationwide curfew will remain in place, but will begin an hour later at 19:00 to take account of the longer daylight hours. France has recorded more than 35,000 new infections within the past 24 hours. Paris has become a particular cause for concern, with 1,200 people in intensive care.
Olivier Veran, the Health Minister explained that this means more people are in an ICU now than at the peak of the second wave in November. The decision comes as the French government faces criticism for its slow vaccine rollout.
France, Italy and Germany, Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania, have confirmed they will resume rollout of the Oxford shot on Friday, while Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands said they will follow suit next week, although Spain said it could exclude certain groups. However Norway, Sweden and Denmark have said they will continue their hold on the AstraZeneca jab, despite the EMA’s ruling. French prime minister Jean Castex is expected to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.