PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday announced a nationwide 6 p.m. curfew as of Saturday and stricter measures at the country’s borders to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“The curfew will apply from 6 p.m. this Saturday and for at least 15 days,” said Jean Castex during a press conference along with five ministers.
While a nationwide curfew was already enforced as early as 8 p.m., only 25 at-risk administrative districts or départements had brought it forward to 6 p.m. until now, with the Paris region not among them.
The prime minister defended the measure for its “efficiency” in the first 15 districts in which it was put in place on January 2, where he said “the increase in the number of new cases is two or three times lower than in other metropolitan departments.”
The government’s decision to extend the measure to the entire country was expected due to the rapid spread of the virus in France, with 16,000 new cases a day during the past week. The appearance of variants first detected in the U.K. has also raised concerns, with at least 200 to 300 new cases a day of the variant in France, according to Health Minister Olivier Véran.
“We must do all we can to prevent it from progressing rapidly and eventually becoming the dominant strain as the U.K. is unfortunately experiencing,” Castex added.
The prime minister also announced stricter measures to pass the French borders. Travelers from outside the EU will have to provide a negative test before entering the country and sign a sworn statement that they will self isolate for seven days before getting another PCR test.
For intra-EU travelers — particularly Denmark and Ireland, which are experiencing a “difficult” epidemic situation according to Castex — the government will put in place new measures for entering the country. These will be presented at the next European Council on 21 January, Castex said. A special protocol will be put in place for cross-border workers as well as freight professionals.
Castex said a new lockdown would be considered should the situation further deteriorate.
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