France is to close its borders to countries outside the European Union from Sunday, but has stopped short of imposing a new lockdown as the country continues to battle the spread of coronavirus.
Prime minister Jean Castex announced new measures on Friday, that will prohibit entry from non-EU countries “unless there are compelling reasons”, as he told France there was still a chance of avoiding another lockdown.
“We can still give ourselves a chance to avoid confinement,” he said at the Elysee Palace at the end of a Defence Council meeting.
He warned “the question of a containment is legitimately raised” due to the number of COVID-19 cases the country is dealing with, stressing that “the next few days will be decisive”.
Those entering the country from the EU will need a negative PCR test the exception of cross-border workers.
On top of the travel restrictions, he announced a strengthening of controls on the 6pm curfew which is currently in place nationwide, parties, and the illegal opening of restaurants, so that “the excesses of a few do not…ruin the efforts of all”.
An “instruction of particular firmness will be applied for those who defraud the rules in force,” Castex said.
Non-food shopping centres of more than 20,000 square metres will also be shut.
France saw nearly 23,000 new COVID-19 infections on Friday and a high level of entries to hospitals and intensive care units.