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Nice, France

France envisions earlier curfew in 20 departments, starting January

France envisions earlier curfew in 20 departments, starting January

The measure is yet to be discussed with local authorities

France is considering the introduction of stricter measures against COVID-19 in parts of its territory, local media reported. This was made clear following a Defence Council, comprising 18 ministers, Prime Minister Jean Castex and President Emmanuel Macron, that took place on the evening of 29 December. If approved, some 20 departments could see earlier curfew hours starting from 2 January 2021.

Too early to evaluate the effect of the holidays on the pandemic yet

According to Le Figaro, the President has received from the Scientific Council confidential information on the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic, hinting at a potential uncontrollable resumption of the pandemic and recommending three courses of action. The first option, which seems to have been disregarded by the French government, is to introduce local lockdowns immediately; the second is to wait until January so that the numbers become clearer or to wait until a confirmed outbreak.

The government is therefore sticking with the second option, and will refrain from introducing a third lockdown, at least for the time being. However, in the most concerned regions, where the figures are deteriorating, it is possible to extend curfew hours from 20:00 to 18:00, starting on 2 January. This has to be discussed with the local authorities.

The list of departments where such measure could be introduced will depend on the latest available data and therefore will not be made clear at least until 1 January. It is known, however, that the four regions most affected by the rebound currently are Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Alpes-Maritimes.

With New Year’s Eve approaching, the French government is worried that a relaxation of people’s behaviour might lead to even stronger rebound of the epidemic than expected. To make things worse, there is a cold wave sweeping the country, which further promotes the spread of the virus.

This is likely the reason why the government is refraining from taking immediate action at this point. Health minister Olivier Véran was also quoted saying that the real effect of the end-of-the-year holidays on the pandemic will not be felt at least until mid-January.

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