France imposes lockdown on Paris as variants spread


March 22, 2021 – Paris and parts of northern France will face a month-long lockdown as officials try to slow the spread of coronavirus variants and speed up the slow rollout of the vaccine.

The lockdown begins at midnight on Friday in the country’s 16 hardest-hit areas along the English Channel and near the Belgian border.

“The epidemic is getting worse. Our responsibility now is not to let it get out of our control, ”said Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, at a press conference.

France reported 35,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, which could indicate a “third wave” of the pandemic, he said.

Variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, now accounts for 75% of cases. More than 1,200 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care in Paris, which is higher than at the peak of the second wave in November, according to to Reuters.

“Four weeks is the time it takes for the measures to produce sufficient impact,” Castex said. “The time we need to reach a threshold of immunization of the most vulnerable.”

The lockdown measures will not be as strict as before, he added. Under the new measures, non-essential businesses will be forced to close, but schools will remain open, according to at the BBC.

People will be able to exercise outdoors within 10 km of their homes, but they are not allowed to travel to other parts of the country unless they have a valid reason, the outlet reported. . In addition, people living in affected areas will need to fill out a form to explain why they left their homes.

Restaurants, bars, cinemas, gymnasiums, museums, theaters and concert halls have been closed for nearly five months and will remain so, according to to the Associated Press.

The national curfew will remain in effect but will begin an hour later at 7 p.m. to accommodate longer daylight hours.

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Reuters, “Paris goes into lockdown amid COVID-19 variant outbreaks.”

BBC, “Covid: Paris lockdown as France fears third wave.”

Associated Press, “France announces new soft restrictions on viruses in Paris region.”

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