The French government will impose tougher restrictions for some regions including Paris from this weekend to counter the accelerating spread of COVID-19 infections, spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday (March 17) after a cabinet meeting.
The announcement paves the way for new curbs in the greater Paris region, where intensive care wards are full and the hospital system is buckling with an incident rate of more than 400 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Attal said the new measures for Paris could include some form of lockdown. Weekend lockdowns have already been imposed on top of a nationwide nightly curfew along parts of the Mediterranean Riviera and some areas of the north.
Prime Minister Jean Castex will announce the new measures at a news conference on Thursday (March 18), Attal said.
The head of public hospitals in Paris earlier warned that the virus was running amok in the capital and surrounding departments, an area that accounts for about a third of economic activity.
President Emmanuel Macron had hoped a vaccination drive could stave off the effects of a new pandemic wave triggered by more contagious variants, and prevent France from resorting to a third national lockdown.
Attal said that despite the suspension of AstraZeneca jabs in France after reports of blood clots in several countries, France is set to attain its goal 10 million people vaccinated with their first dose by mid-April.
“The situation is difficult, it will stay that way for another couple of weeks,” Attal said. “We need to hold tight.”