Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

By ELAINE GANLEY, associated Press

PARIS (AP) – The French government backed off Thursday by ordering a strict lockdown for Paris and several other areas, despite a growing alarming situation in hospitals with an increase of COVID-19 patients. Instead, it announced new restrictions, reducing the national curfew by one hour.

Getting large doses of fresh air is encouraged, which means that people living in the Paris region and the north of the country can walk as many times as they want in a day, but within their 10-kilometer (6-mile) radius With paper authorizing houses and walks.

Stores, however, will feel the pinch with all non-essential outlets – but not bookshops – closing. Nothing will change in schools, which will remain open.

Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the new rules, which would remain in effect until midnight on Friday and would last for at least four weeks.

He also announced that the French would be able to vaccinate with the AstraZeneca vaccine starting on Friday afternoon – and that he himself is getting a shot “to show us we can be confident”. Castex is making an exception to the age rule for itself. Front of the line of people awaiting vaccination, currently reserved for people 75 and older or with serious health concerns.

France and some other countries postponed the vaccine’s use for some time due to fear of blood clots, and it was resumed after the European Medicine Agency gave its green light on Thursday.

Castex said France faces a “third wave” of the epidemic, with three-quarters of new cases arising from a more infectious version originating in Britain, and more patients who are younger and in better health.

“The situation is deteriorating,” he said.

The Paris area has an infection rate of 446 out of 100,000 residents – more than 23% a week – Castex said, and intensive care units are near saturation. Northern France has a rate of 381 per 100,000. France’s nationwide infection rate is approximately 100,000 per 100,000.

But the Prime Minister insisted that France was sticking to its “third way” of dealing with the virus: “pragmatic, proportional and territorial”, targeting problematic areas.

The Nice region and to the north, the Pas de Calais and the Dunkirk area, have been in lockdown the entire weekend. The north, the Paris area and many others are now being targeted, but with a mixture of carrots and sticks.

People all over France have been in a nationwide curfew for two months between 6am and 6pm. The curfew will now begin one hour later.

In addition, restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, museums, theaters and concert halls have been closed for about five months, and will remain closed.

The government of French President Emmanuel Macron expected that the measures already taken would result in the country’s 67 million loss from the economic, social and psychological impact of the second lockdown.

Yet both confirmed infections and demand for ICU beds have grown rapidly in recent weeks. Variants account for most infections of the UK virus, and each day around 250 people are dying from the virus.

“We see people dying, we see people suffering …. a difficult situation .. and we don’t feel a proper response,” said Enrique Casalino, head of emergency services at Bichat Hospital Paris, by French broadcaster Told LCI.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned on Wednesday that new measures to be announced on Thursday could include a lockdown in the Paris region, home to 12 million people, and the Hauts- the Belgian border region in northern France. De-France.

“A local strategy remains a good strategy. It enables (us) to spread the virus precisely and proportionately, ”he said.

Sylvie Corbett contributed to Paris.

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