France considering extending virus curfews

By: AFP      Published: 03:08 AM, 30 Dec, 2020
France considering extending virus curfews
–File photo

France is considering starting its curfew earlier in the evening in parts of the country to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Tuesday.

The government has for the moment ruled out a return to a full lockdown, either nationally or at the local level, he added.

The proposal is to extend the existing 8pm-6am overnight curfew, starting it at 6pm in the regions hit hardest by the second wave of the virus, Veran told France 2 television. 

The proposed changes would come into force on Saturday, he added.

The new measure was discussed at a meeting of top ministers and health officials chaired by President Emmanuel Macron earlier Tuesday.

While Veran singled out four eastern regions particularly hard hit by the surge in infections, his ministry said the extended curfew might eventually be extended to as many as 20.

The announcement came as France recorded 11,395 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday -- more than double the government's daily target to ease restrictions, 5,000.

It was also revealed that the scientific council advising the government had warned that cases could rise due to end-of-year holiday gatherings.

In an opinion given to the government on December 23 and made public on Tuesday, the council said that such a spike in infections would cause "a sharp increase in hospitalisations, intensive care placements and deaths".

The number of hospitalisations for Covid-19 rose to 24,743 on Tuesday -- the highest number since December 23.

With health workers already struggling to contain the second wave of infections, the government is under pressure to act, while avoiding another lockdown.

Some health professionals however have argued that a nationwide lockdown is precisely what is required, even if only for a few weeks.

France launched its vaccination campaign on Sunday, with nursing home residents receiving the jab in the first phase.