France will not wait to impose new lockdown if curfew fails
The health minister said another confinement will be considered quickly if the results of the curfew are judged insufficient in stopping the spread of the virus and its variants
France is ready to impose a new lockdown within weeks or even days if the curfew is no longer judged to be stopping the spread of Covid-19, but there are no definite plans as yet, the government has said.
Health Minister Olivier Véran said that he was “first waiting to hear results of the effect of the curfew”, before considering any new measures, but that if the curfew no longer appeared to be working as expected, confinement would be the next option.
He told newspaper Le Parisien this weekend: “We will be informed by next week. If [cases] do not drop, and [the new] variants start to spread everywhere, we will take extra measures, of course. And that means confinement. If we see that the virus is rising strongly again, we will close [everything].
“We must ensure the curfew works, and that we are staying strong against the [new] variants and buying time. Best-case scenario, we will drop the epidemic pressure.
“If that is not the case, we will not wait until March to act. We are following the daily evolution of the effects of the curfew. We will not wait for a new wave [to take hold] before we take more measures.”
Elysée denies definite lockdown plans
So far, the Elysée has denied that the government is planning a definite lockdown.
In a statement to France Télévisions, the Elysée said: “Everything will depend on the evolution of the epidemic and the results of the national curfew.”
The comments come as newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) published a statement from “senior government sources”, who suggested that “the decision [on a lockdown] is on the brink of being taken”.
If a new lockdown is imposed, it is likely that President Emmanuel Macron will make an announcement on television - as he has with previous confinements.
It is thought that should the decision be taken, the President will appear on television on Wednesday January 27, after the next defence council meeting, and will announce a new lockdown before the end of the week.
If this happens, all non-essential public shops and areas are expected to close, but schools are likely to remain open.
An “important minister” said that any new lockdown would “last for at least three weeks”, the JDD reported.
No named government sources have confirmed this yet.
Up until now, France has avoided the imposition of a new confinement, even as other European countries have extended or re-imposed the measure.