The decision could mean new restrictions on movement of people, transport and closures of certain types of establishments.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the new additions on Thursday (August 27), taking the total number of departments classified as at risk up to 21, after Paris and Bouches-du-Rhône were added earlier this month.
The other departments are: the remainder of the Île-de-France departments, Sarthe, Loiret, Rhône, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Gard, Vaucluse, Var, Alpes-Maritimes, Martinique and Guadeloup.
Mr Castex said that the government noted an “undeniable resurgence of the epidemic” which is “progressing throughout the country”.
Prefects of departments in the red zone have the authority to introduce restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These could include prohibiting the movement of persons and vehicles, limiting access to public transport and restricting transport on planes or boats unless it is essential for family or professional reasons or health needs.
It is also possible for prefects to temporarily close certain categories of public establishments or meeting places, when they cannot accommodate people safely. This could include cinemas, theatres, cafés, restaurants, public squares etc.
“The reproduction rate (R-number) of the virus is above 1, which means that the virus is gaining ground. We were down to 0.7 in May. We’ve gone back up to 1.4,” Mr Castex said, adding that the number of positive tests is increasing for every age group.
#COVID19 | Nous sommes depuis quelques semaines dans une phase de recrudescence de l'épidémie.— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) August 27, 2020
Le taux de reproduction du virus se situe au-dessus de 1, ce qui signifie que le virus gagne du terrain.
Nous étions redescendus à 0,7 en mai. Nous sommes remontés à 1,4. pic.twitter.com/xrkwb99MqB
He also noted that the number of hospitalisations is going up with over 800 patients currently being admitted to hospital per week for coronavirus, compared to 500 six weeks ago.
“Our objective is to do everything possible to avoid a reconfinement, especially a nation-wide one [such as in the Spring],” Mr Castex said.
He confirmed that every day 700 fines were given out to members of the public for not wearing masks when they should.