Hundreds of thousands of people in northern France went back into the lockdown on Saturday, while the health representative intensified his nationwide vaccination campaign to compensate after a slow start.
The inhabitants of Pas-de-Calais on the north coast joined them in the region’s port of Dunkirk – and the Mediterranean town of Nice – was already closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
This means that more than two million people throughout France are subject to saint restrictions, which are required to stay at home if they cannot grant a written exemption.
With 90 percent hospital capacity in Pas-de-Calais, the prefect of the region insisted that the new restrictions were necessary to prevent local health services from being overwhelmed.
Two-thirds of the cases registered there recently have been the more contagious variant first discovered in England, local officials said.
But with a curfew 18.00 to 06.00 already in place and unnecessary shops closed there, the new restrictions will harm already hard-pressed companies.
Slow progress in vaccinations
Covid-19 has killed 88,300 people across France, according to the latest figures on Saturday.
The government is trying to intensify its vaccination campaign to provide 10 million people for the first time in mid-April, 20 million in mid-May and 30 million in the summer.
To date, however, less than 3.4 million people in France have received at least one dose of the vaccine – compared to more than 22 million in the UK.
New vaccination centers opened in Pas-de-Calais this weekend, and around a hundred throughout the Paris region were also launched.
The government has chosen targeted measures in the worst affected regions rather than another nationwide lock-in.
In Paris on Friday, police banned the consumption of alcohol outdoors to try to reduce the crowd to enjoy the spring sun.
# COVID19 | New measures to limit epidemic traffic in Paris: ➡️Closing of non-food stores and shopping centers of + of 10 000 m²➡️ Consumption of alcohol consumption in public spaces between 11am and 6pm extends to different locations of the Capital pic .twitter.com/tBC3CMkKEg
– Prefecture of Police (@prefpolice) March 5, 2021
France’s doctor’s order meanwhile appealed to all healthcare professionals to set a good example and be vaccinated. So far, utilization in the sector has been only 30 percent.