After a faltering vaccine rollout and the rise on the spread of the highly contagious variants of coronavirus, the French government has imposed another month-long Paris lockdown along with portions in the north of the country, prompting French President Emmanuel Macron to shift his course in battling the pandemic.
Four-Week Paris Lockdown
Since the French president defied the calls of the scientists and a number of members in his government to put the country on lockdown in late January, Macron has mentioned that he would do whatever was needed in order to keep the second-largest economy of Europe as open as possible. But this week, the French president ran out of options as France along with several countries in Europe briefly suspended the usage of the vaccine made by Oxford/AstraZeneca.
According to The Guardian, Jean Castex, the Prime Minister of France shared on Thursday that the country was in the grip of a third wave after the virulent variant which was initially detected in Britain now accounts for around 75 % of the cases. In a news conference, Castex shared that the pandemic is getting worse and reminded that their responsibility is not to let the pandemic escape their control.
As intensive care wards are under severe strain, specifically in Paris where the incident rate is above 400 infections in every 100,000 inhabitants. On Thursday, the French government reported 35,000 new cases on Thursday and there were more COVID-19 patients in intensive care in Paris than at the peak of the second wave of the pandemic.
Moreover, Castex mentioned that they just need four weeks in time for the measure that they executed to generate sufficient impact. The prime minister of France also added that it is the time that they need in reaching a threshold in the vaccination of the most vulnerable.
In addition, the Paris lockdown will be starting on Friday midnight in the 16 hardest-hit departments of France, with the exception of one on the Mediterranean, forming a corridor from Calais to the capital. Shops of barbers, clothing stores, and furniture will be closed, but bookstores and other shops that are selling essential goods can remain open during the month-long Paris lockdown.
Also, schools will remain open and individuals will be allowed to exercise outdoors as long as it is within the 10km or the 6.2-mile radius of their homes. The prime minister also stated that travel out of the worst-hit areas will not be permitted without compelling reason as individuals can go outdoors but not partying with friends, BBC reported.
On the other hand, Castex shared that France will be resuming its vaccination with AstraZeneca after the confirmation from the European Medicines Agency that it was safe. As a way of getting the public confidence in the vaccine, which will be critical if France will hit its target, Castex would get the shot on Friday.
Castex stated that he is confident that public trust in the vaccine will be restored but he mentioned that it may need some time. The new restrictions imposed may be extended in other regions of the country but it may slow the economic recovery based on some experts, The Independent reported.