French Prime Minister, Jean Castex has announced a new strict curfew will begin nationally across France starting at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) on Saturday, to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The move is a tightening of a curfew already in place since December, which restricts movement from 20:00-06:00.
Announcing the measure on Thursday, Mr Castex described the country’s situation as “worrying” with infections remaining at a “high plateau”.
France has so far recorded more than 69,000 coronavirus deaths – the seventh-highest death toll in the world.
The new national curfew will stay in place for at least 15 days and means everyone must be at home, unless they are returning from school or work, by 18:00 every day.
All shops and businesses will have to close when the curfew begins, except for emergency services.
The prime minister added that the situation in France is “under control compared to neighbouring countries but still fragile” with pressure on hospitals remaining high.
The curfew is seen as a way to avoid a full national lockdown, but Mr Castex said further restrictions would be imposed “without delay” if the situation deteriorated further.
The country will aim to carry out at least one million COVID-19 tests per month in schools to help keep them open, but indoor sports activities have been banned again.
The government is also aiming to have more than one million people vaccinated against the virus by the end of January, amid criticism of a slow rollout by some.
So far, 318,000 people have been vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry.
“The sooner we can vaccinate the most vulnerable, the sooner our hospitals will be spared the risk of being overwhelmed,” Mr Castex said Thursday.
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