Sixteen departments in France will be under full lockdown starting this Saturday (March 20).
The departments are: Aisne, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Paris, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d'Oise and Yvelines, Eure, Seine-Maritime and Alpes-Maritimes.
Prime Minister Jean Castex made the announcement during a press briefing this evening (March 18).
“The progression of the epidemic is clearly accelerating. We recorded 30,000 cases alone yesterday and 35,000 today,” he said.
He described it as the “third wave” and that it was due to the arrival of the UK variant of the virus, which now accounts for nearly three-quarters of all infections.
“We knew it was more contagious. We are slowly discovering that it is actually both more virulent and potentially more serious,” he said.
“Unlike many of our neighbours, we did not implement a long-term, nationwide lockdown. We even ruled out that option in late January, and that was the right decision.
“If we had had to lock down then, we would have probably had to lock down the country for three months. That would have been unbearable."
Anyone going out in these 16 departments will need to fill out an exemption form (attestation de déplacement) for all outings, including exercise, shopping, going to work, going to a medical appointment, taking children to school, etc.
The key points of the new seven-day-a-week lockdowns affecting the 16 departments are:
1: Only essential shops / essential aisles in shops allowed to stay open (including book and music / record shops)
2: Schools will remain open, school sport can continue. Lycées will operate alternate weeks to halve class numbers
3: No time limit for going out of home during the day but only within a limit of 10km only allowed from home and with an attestation authorisation form*.
4: No travel between regions unless for an imperative work or other reasons
5: The measures are due to last for at least four weeks
6: They could be extended to other departments if necessary
Dans ces 16 départements, de nouvelles mesures de freinage massives de l'épidémie interviendront à compter de ce vendredi soir minuit, et pour 4 semaines.— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) March 18, 2021
C'est une troisième voie que nous retenons, une voie qui doit permettre de freiner sans enfermer. pic.twitter.com/AkzukWf5O9
Mr Castex also announced that in all departments in the country the curfew will start at 19:00 and not 18:00 from this Saturday (March 20) to reflect lighter evenings but, he said, it must not become a pretext for barbecues among friends or social gatherings in parks or other public spaces.
Group gatherings must be avoided and prefects will be instructed to ban access to certain public spaces.
Mr Castex said that 29% of Covid-19 cases came from workplaces, based on a survey carried out by French research institute Institut Pasteur. He said that work from home should be undertaken as much as possible - “at least four out of five days per week is the objective we must reach”.
*Note: Following this link takes you to the website where you can find the attestations. The site may currently be showing the old forms but will be updated during the day on March 19.)