France may impose more regional lockdowns in worst-hit areas: PM

French Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks during a press conference on the government’s current strategy for the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Paris, France February 25, 2021. Stephane De Sakutin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – France will impose measures including weekend lockdowns in Paris and 19 other regions from the start of March if signs of the coronavirus accelerating persist, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

Castex said a new nationwide lockdown was not on the agenda, but said French citizens needed to be in a state of heightened alert to make sure they contain the spread of the virus while vaccines are rolled out.

Speaking in a televised address, Castex said the spread was worrying in 20 French departments – the country’s administrative regions – including Paris and the surrounding region.

He said those regions would now be subject to heightened scrutiny by public health officials.

If a week from now it was determined that infection rates were still rising in those regions, measures will be put in place, from March 6, similar to those in force in the cities of Nice and Dunkirk.

There, local authorities have imposed stay-at-home orders at weekends, stepped up checks at airports, cracked down on people gathering in public places and tightened rules on wearing masks outside.

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