Covid: Lockdown next two weekends for French Riviera

A local confinement – the first in mainland France – will be enforced along Alpes-Maritimes’ coast after worrying rise in cases of UK variant

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Local lockdowns are to be enforced on the Riviera for the next two weekends, the Alpes-Maritimes’ prefect has announced.

The measure will last from 18:00 on Friday until 6:00 on Monday morning, with rules similar to the first lockdown last year.

One difference though is that people will be allowed to go out within a radius of up to 5km from their home for a one-hour daily walk or exercise. Previously this has been restricted to 1km.

The measure concerns coastal towns from Menton on the Italian border to Théoule-sur-Mer – so the whole coast of the Alpes-Maritimes. It does not concern the less built-up inland areas (known as the arrière pays) or Monaco.

Alpes-Maritimes Prefect Bernard Gonzalez said during a press conference that action was needed because of the high Covid rates in the area, with more than half of new cases now being the ‘UK’ variant.

The department has an incidence rate of 588 infections per 100,000 inhabitants (this refers to the number of people having a positive test over the last week) – which was described as three times the national rate by the regional health agency head.

Mr Gonzalez said the coastal areas are especially affected because many people come and go through the area each day.

He added: “Respecting the rules is a necessity and no one is exempt. There will be checks on people’s movements in the evenings and at weekends and to make sure shops are respecting the rules. All the state’s services will be mobilised…

“These decisions are needed because of the evolution of the situation linked to new variants. The consequences of the measures are heavy, but concern to protect the most vulnerable and reduce the pressure on health workers makes this a necessity for us all.

“I insist that these rules are for two weeks and I hope that the situation will allow us not to have to prolong them after that – or make them stricter. In view of that, we will be observing all the indicators on a daily basis.

“I call on everyone to be responsible and show that spirit of solidarity of which the people of the Alpes-Maritimes can be proud.”

The prefect said thousands of extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine have now been promised for the Alpes-Maritimes.

In addition “massive” deliveries of thousands of AstraZeneca vaccine doses were being sent to the Alpes-Maritimes for GPs to administer to people aged 50-64 who have serious health problems.

Read more: 29,000 GPs in France to give AstraZeneca vaccine this week

GPs not already signed up to take part will be encouraged to do so, the prefect said.

The new temporary measures include:

  • Attestations will be needed again during the lockdowns - for shopping, going to the doctor, taking a pet for a walk, for those who have to go out to work etc
  • Mask-wearing will be obligatory everywhere in the department
  • Shops with a surface area of more than 5,000m2, apart from food shops and pharmacies will close during the two-week period (at present this concerns shopping centres of more than 20,000m2). However, the shops could maintain ‘click and collect’ online sales and home deliveries.
  • Shops must more strictly enforce distancing rules by customers and have fewer customers in the shop at one time. They will be invited to open earlier in the morning.
  • Spot checks with PCR tests for passengers will be carried out on entire flights arriving from abroad.
  • Playing music over loudspeakers and consuming alcohol in public areas will be banned in the whole department.

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