Third lockdown possible in France amid rising cases

PARIS (AFP) – France has not ruled out imposing a third nationwide lockdown if coronavirus cases continue to rise, its health minister said yesterday, as the country braces for a possible post-holiday spike.

“We will never exclude measures that are necessary to protect the public,” Olivier Veran told the Journal du Dimanche.

“That is not to say we have made a decision, but that we are watching the situation hour by hour.”

France has been registering around 15,000 new infections per day, and on Friday confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain.

The new strain, which experts fear is more contagious, prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on the United Kingdom (UK).

Following a snap 48-hour ban on UK arrivals this week, France has reopened its borders – partly to allow French citizens to return home but also to relieve the massive build-up of freight goods.

On Saturday, it took delivery of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it will use in its mass inoculation campaign.

People in face masks walk the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. PHOTO: AP