The French government had been debating all week whether to impose another lockdown, as Covid cases continue to rise across the country and fears grow about new and more contagious variants of the virus.
But after a Friday evening meeting of the Defence Council, which makes the final decision on health restrictions in France, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced no lockdown – for now.
However other restrictions were put in place including a tightening of the travel ban and the closure of large shopping centres.
France is currently on a nighttime curfew, but on Thursday the health minister warned that it was likely not enough to curb the spread, aggravated by the new variants first discovered in the UK and South Africa.
The extra restrictions announced by the PM are;
- A ban on all travel in and out of France from outside the EU, with an exception only for vital travel from midnight Sunday (0:00am).
- All arrivals into France from within the EU must present a negative Covid test (previously this rule had only applied to arrivals by air and sea). Cross-border workers are exempt from this requirement
- From Sunday, all non-food shopping centres larger than 20,000 square metres will close
- The protocol on home-working will be reinforced so that everyone who can work from home does so
- Police will step up checks on compliance with curfew and crack down on illegal parties and restaurant-opening.
The current rules including the 6pm curfew will remain in place.
He added: “The question of another lockdown is legitimately raised in view of the latest data.
“We want to do everything we can to avoid another lockdown. The coming days will be decisive. Let's be very vigilant.”