General curfew at 6 p.m. from Saturday for at least 15 days and reinforced border controls: Jean Castex unveiled new restrictions on Thursday to curb the spread of the coronavirus in France and announced an expansion of the vaccination campaign from Monday.
Ten months after the appearance of the first cases of Covid-19 in France, the circulation of the virus is certainly less important than in other European countries which have decided to reconfine. But the appearance of variants of the virus, more contagious, acts like a scarecrow.
“If we observe a strong epidemic deterioration, we would be led to decide without delay on a new containment”, warned the Prime Minister during a press conference alongside six members of the government.
In the immediate future, the application of the curfew at 6 p.m., already in force in 25 departments, will be extended to the whole of the metropolitan territory from “from this Saturday and for at least 15 days” in a “logic of preventive braking “.
“With the exceptions related to public service missions, all places, businesses or services open to the public will be closed at 6:00 pm,” said Jean Castex. This measure, which was expected, “aims to further reduce social contact at the end of the day, while allowing the maintenance of economic, educational and travel activities during the day.”
The schools will therefore remain open. But indoor school and extracurricular physical and sports activities are suspended until further notice and the health protocol in canteens will be further strengthened.
To curb the spread of the British variant, a protocol to test up to a million children and teachers per month will also be put in place.
As for the universities, the tutorials in the first year will resume in half-groups from January 25. This measure will then extend, “if the health situation allows it, to students of other levels,” added the Prime Minister, expressing the “concern” of the government at the “deep feeling of isolation, but also the real difficulties pedagogical “of students.
At the same time, the conditions for entry into France will be tightened “strongly” and border controls will be “reinforced”.
From Monday, all travelers from a country outside the European Union will have to take a test before leaving, the Prime Minister said. The people concerned will also have to undertake on their honor to isolate themselves for seven days once they arrive in France, then to repeat a second PCR test at the end.
Border control will also be strengthened and negative tests required to reach several overseas territories.
About 20,000 new cases are recorded every day in France – more than 23,000 Wednesday -, far from the 5,000 hoped for in mid-December by the government. And the hospital pressure does not weaken.
– Access to vaccination expanded from Monday
After a sluggish and criticized start, the vaccination campaign will accelerate. From Monday, people with high-risk pathologies (chronic renal failure, cancer under treatment, organ transplants, people with Down’s syndrome …) will be able to be vaccinated, i.e. 800,000 additional people.
This expansion does not call into question the planned opening of vaccination to all people over 75 years old. In total, 700 vaccination centers will be open on Monday and will all be able to make appointments for the next four weeks, assured the Minister of Health Olivier Véran.
– 2.5 million doses at the end of February –
Doses to vaccinate 2.5 million people in France should be available by the end of February, he added.
According to the latest report, more than 247,000 people have received their first injection, while France had last week one million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
On the economic side, the Prime Minister assured that the support mechanisms would be maintained “as long as it is[it] necessary”.
“We are acutely aware of the weariness, of the anger” of the professions affected “, underlined by his side the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, who announced among other things that companies would have the” right “to benefit from One year more repayment of state guaranteed loans Fixed costs of closed businesses will be covered up to 70%.
In the ranks of the opposition, the announcement of the extension of the curfew at 6 p.m. to the whole of the territory has made people cringe.
“Monsieur Déconfinement announces the Couvre Feu 6 p.m. everywhere. We will be more likely to focus in common places (transport, shops …) on shorter slots!”, Lambasted the deputy La France insoumise (LFI) Adrien Quatennens on Twitter.
“So much time wasted, by pure ideology, to control our borders”, reacted the president of the RN, Marine Le Pen.