To curb the spread of COVID-19, and its highly contagious new variants, France imposed a new lockdown on Paris and parts of the country’s northern region.
President Emmanuel Macron’s strategy was to keep the country open as long as possible, refusing to commit to a third strict lockdown. However, given the spread of the COVID-19 variants in the country, and a sluggish vaccine rollout, the French government changed course yesterday.
Dans ces 16 départements, de nouvelles mesures de freinage massives de l’épidémie interviendront à compter de ce vendredi soir minuit, et pour 4 semaines.
C’est une troisième voie que nous retenons, une voie qui doit permettre de freiner sans enfermer. pic.twitter.com/AkzukWf5O9
— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) March 18, 2021
France is now in the midst of a third wave of COVID-19, with the UK variant now accounting for around 75 percent of cases. The spread is particularly bad in Paris, where there are over 400 infections for every 100,000 people, Reuters reported.
The lockdown will last for four weeks, starting Friday at midnight. Barbers, clothing stores, and furniture shops will be forced to close, though stores selling essential goods will remain open. The lockdowns may be extended to other areas if necessary.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a news conference, “The epidemic is getting worse. Our responsibility now is to not let it escape our control…Four weeks, the time required for the measures to generate a sufficient impact. (It is) the time we need to reach a threshold in the vaccination of the most vulnerable.”