The French government will impose stricter restrictions on certain regions, including Paris, from this weekend to counter the growing spread of COVID-19 infections, spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday after a government meeting.
The announcement paves the way for new curbs in the greater Paris region, where the intensive care units are full and the hospital system is booming with an incident rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Attal said the new measures for Paris could include some form of lock-in. Weekend stops have already been introduced on top of a nationwide curfew along parts of the Mediterranean Riviera and certain areas in the north.
President Emmanuel Macron had hoped that a vaccination could avert a new pandemic trigger triggered by more contagious variants and prevent France from taking more measures that risk slowing down the economy and cooperating with its citizens.
That approach is now being tested. Vaccine rollout has been slowed down by a heavy EU procurement process, delivery problems, general skepticism and the recent suspension of AstraZeneca vaccinations in more than a dozen EU states, including France.
On Wednesday, Macron defended the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy and said that within a few months, Europe would be among the regions that produced the most doses.
“We are living through the most difficult weeks now. We know that,” Macron said after welcoming the Polish Prime Minister to the Elysee Palace.
The new restrictions will be announced by the Prime Minister on Thursday. They will not include school closures, Attal said.
The head of public hospitals in Paris previously warned that the virus was going crazy in the capital and surrounding wards, an area that accounts for about a third of economic activity.
“The virus is not under control,” says Martin Hirsch.