French prime minister announces Paris area lockdown

Caroline Alexander

France is locking down the Paris area as it suffers to contain a third wave of the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced.

In a bid to contain the resurgence in cases, only essential businesses and schools will stay open, he said on Thursday. The measures will start from midnight on Friday and will remain in place for four weeks.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex delivers his speech during a press conference on the current French government strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Paris, Thursday, March 18, 2021.

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“I know your fatigue facing these measures,” Castex said during a press conference. “These measures are indispensable and balanced. They aim to put the break on the virus without locking us down.”

Like the rest of the country, the French capital has been under a nightly curfew since mid-January with cafes, restaurants, bars and theaters closed in an effort to contain a resurgence of the virus.

But the infection rate has climbed regardless and hospitals are increasingly under strain.

More restrictions will be imposed in 16 departments including the eight in the Paris region. Last month, officials began implementing localized restrictions in Covid-19 hotspots, shuttering first the Alpes-Maritimes region in the south and then the northern city of Dunkirk and on the weekends.