France introduces 6pm curfew in hard-hit areas

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – A new curfew goes into effect at 6pm on Saturday in 15 French departments to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the government said Friday. A previous curfew of 8pm had been in place since December 15.

“We are taking a decision for 15 departments. In a week’s time we will assess the impact of this earlier curfew on these 15 departments, on the circulation of the virus elsewhere in the country,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told TF1 television.

“Obviously if the situation were to deteriorate further in some regions, we would take the necessary decisions. The measures are incremental and can, of course, go as far as a lockdown,” he added.

France has the highest Covid-19 cases count in Western Europe and the fifth in the world, with 2,639,773 in total. The country’s death toll stands at more than 64,000.

France has already instituted two full national lockdowns, the first from March 17 to May 11. After an initial decline in infection rates a rise in cases prompted a second lockdown that began on October 30 and was subsequently replaced by an 8pm curfew in mid-December. Restaurants and bars are off limits for now and it is not clear when they might re-open, although January 20 was initially floated as a target date.

Attal reiterated on Friday that theatres, cinemas and concert venues would not re-open on January 7.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that 132,000 police had been deployed across France for the New Year celebrations to ensure security and that the curfew was respected.

On Friday evening, the French health ministry reported 19,348 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, slightly fewer than Thursday’s 19,927 and well below Wednesday’s more than one-month high of 26,457 but still far from the government’s target of fewer than 5,000 daily additional infections.

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