The state of emergency will be re-established on Saturday, the government has said.
This will pave the way for the government to introduce new and stricter measures – whether at local or national level – to fight the resurgence of coronavirus infections.
France first declared a national State of Health Emergency in March, which allowed the government to introduce tight rules on movement of people and forced them to stay at home. I ended on July 10th.
President Emmanuel Macron announced tighter restrictions during a televised interview on Wednesday. As had been widely speculated he announced a nighttime curfew in the hardest hit areas of the country such as Paris and other major cities.
Macron said residents of those cities would not be allowed to be outdoors between 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) and 6:00 am (0400 GMT) from Saturday, for a duration of at least four weeks.
“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” Macron said, adding the measure would stop people visiting restaurants and private homes in the late evening and night.
Under a state of emergency the government will also have the power to make decisions quickly and not require measures to pass the full legislative process through the Assemblée Nationale and the Senate, as is usually the case.
The move will allow “measures proportional to the health risks to be taken”, and will enter into force on Saturday, according to minutes from a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. It was not clear how long the state of emergency would last for.
France was facing “a health catastrophe”, the minutes said.
Covid-19 cases have been steadily rising in France since the summer and in recent weeks hospital numbers and in particular those in intensive care.
On Wednesday French health chiefs reported there were just over 9,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital, 1, 664 of whom were being treated in intensive care. That reflects a similar number of patients in intensive care as there were at the end of May.
Authorities also announced the death of a further 104 coronavirus patients on Wednesday.