French President Emmanuel Macron announced a third nationwide lockdown beginning Saturday in view of the surging cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The decision was taken amid heavy criticism from other European countries which said France decided to not go under a third lockdown in early January despite being severely hit by the virus, unlike them.
The lockdown aims to stem the Covid-19 crisis and ease pressure on hospitals in hotspots that are left overwhelmed due to the new surge. In a televised address to the nation, Macron also stressed the need to vaccinate everyone faster. "We will do everything to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate! Without rest, without holidays. Saturday and Sunday just like in the week," he said.
France on Friday reported 46,677 new cases, which were 6.2% more than a week ago, taking the total to 4.74 million cases. It also reported 332 new deaths from Covid-19, taking the toll to 96,280.
Here is all you need to know about the new restrictions:
1. As a result of the lockdown, non-essential shops around the country will be closed for the next four weeks.
2. Schools will be shut but university students will still be allowed to attend classes one day a week.
3. Outdoor activities will be limited to places within six miles of people's home.
4. Alcoholic drinks will be banned in parks and other outdoor public spaces.
5. Macron, however, did not put a total prohibition on people socialising and authorised travel between regions over the Easter weekend.
6. If one needs to travel during curfew hours from 7pm to 6am, or for trips exceeding 10 kilometres, a certificate will be required, Macron told citizens in his Wednesday address.
7. An order to set up thousands of temporary ICU beds in hospitals reeling under pressure was also passed and parliament approved it on Thursday, according to news agency AP.