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French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced a new evening

- By lucillebeasley3
Publish Date : 2021-02-06 18:05:58
French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced a new evening

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced a new evening curfew will begin nationally across France starting at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) on Saturday.

The move is a tightening of a curfew already in place since December, which restricts movement from 20:00-06:00.

Announcing the measure on Thursday, Mr Castex described the country's situation as "worrying" with infections remaining at a "high plateau".

He also announced new restrictions for people arriving into the country.

France has so far recorded more than 69,000 coronavirus deaths - the seventh-highest death toll in the world.

How does the curfew work?



The new national curfew will stay in place for at least 15 days and means everyone must be at home, unless they are returning from school or work, by 18:00 every day.

All shops and businesses will have to close when the curfew begins, except for emergency services.

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The tighter evening restriction was already in place in some hard-hit eastern regions of the country before Thursday's announcement and, according to the French Scientific Council, has led to infection rates slowing.

However some people have criticised the curfew, claiming that it will create larger groups of people, all trying to get home in time before it comes into force.

Women's rugby coach Felicie Guinot lives in Marseille, where an earlier curfew is already in place. She told AP news agency that rush hour traffic in Marseille was heavy.

"It's a scramble so everyone can be home by 6pm," she said.

How are borders tightening?
All those arriving from outside the EU will now have to test negative for the virus within 72 hours before their travel into France, and then isolate for seven days and test negative again, Mr Castex said.

The border controls are partly to limit the extent to which new mutant strains of the virus spreading abroad can become dominant in France. There is particular concern over the more transmissible variant first detected in the UK - which the French health minister says now accounts for about 1-1.5% of new cases nationally.

"We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading in France," Health Minister Olivier Veran told a Thursday news conference.

What has the government said?
The prime minister said Thursday that the situation in France is "under control compared to neighbouring countries but still fragile" with pressure on hospitals remaining high.

The curfew is seen as a way to avoid a full national lockdown, but Mr Castex said further restrictions would be imposed "without delay" if the situation deteriorated further.

It is hoped that an earlier curfew will put a stop to people gathering for drinks in the evenings, despite the government advising citizens to limit their social contacts to six people.

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The country will aim to carry out at least one million Covid-19 tests per month in schools to help keep them open, but indoor sport activities have been banned again.

The government is also aiming to have more than one million people vaccinated against the virus by the end of January, amid criticism of a slow rollout by some. So far, 318,000 people have been vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry.

"The sooner we can vaccinate the most vulnerable, the sooner our hospitals will be spared the risk of being overwhelmed," Mr Castex said Thursday.

Category : world

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