“The virus has not gone on holiday and neither have we,” the premier said on a visit to the northeastern city of Lille. “We need to protect ourselves against this virus, without putting a stop to our economic and social life, in other words avoiding the risk of a new generalised lockdown.”
France, which has registered over 30,000 deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic, recorded thousands of new cases last week prompting some regions to reimpose local restrictions.
“We are seeing an increase in the figures for the epidemic which should make us more attentive than ever, and this is the case,” Castex said.
“I call on every French person to remain very vigilant. The fight against the virus depends of course on the state, local communities, institutions, but also on each of us,” he added.
The city of Lille, a bustling hub close to the Belgian border, has been the subject of particular concern with the prevalence of the virus doubling to 38 people per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.
In parts of the city it is now obligatory to wear masks outside to limit the contagion, a move that local authorities can impose if necessary.
Authorities in dozens of towns across France have brought in their own mask rules, including popular summer tourist destinations such as Biarritz, Saint-Malo, Le Touquet, La Rochelle and Deauville.
The French government has been determined to encourage citizens to go on holiday this year, especially within the country, in the hope of giving some help to an economy that contracted by a whopping 13.8 percent in the second quarter.
But officials are keenly aware that the opening up brings risks.
There has been much criticism of young people pictured partying in holiday resorts without masks, although the latest government data shows that workplaces are the primary site for Covid-19 clusters.