PARIS, France: The French capital is set to go into a month-long Covid lockdown as the country fears a third wave.
Some 21 million people in 16 areas of France will be placed under the measures from midnight on Friday.
These measures will not be as strict as the previous lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex said, with people allowed to exercise outdoors.
France has recorded more than 35,000 new infections within the past 24 hours.
Castex said a “third wave” of infections in the country was looking increasingly likely.
The situation in Paris is particularly worrying with 1,200 people in intensive care there, more than at the peak of the second wave in November, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
Under the new measures, non-essential businesses will be forced to close but schools will remain open.
People will be allowed to exercise outdoors within 10 kilometres of their home and are not allowed to travel to other parts of the country unless they have a valid reason. Those in the affected areas will have to fill out a form to explain why they have left their homes.
France’s nationwide curfew will remain in place. However, it will begin an hour later at 19:00 (18:00 GMT), taking into account the longer hours of daylight.
Fears of a third wave come as the French government faces criticism for its slow vaccine rollout.
As per the new guidelines, people will be encouraged to work from home and will be allowed to go outdoors to walk or exercise only after having an ‘approval certificate’. They also cannot go further than 10 km from their home.
From Friday, France will resume vaccinating using the AstraZeneca jab following the EMA’s announcement that it was fit for use. Mr Castex said he would be getting the vaccine straight away to prove that it was okay.
France had suspended the jab after several cases in Europe of blood clots developing after the vaccine was administered.
A survey conducted just as the suspension was announced found that only 20% of the French have confidence in AstraZeneca.
France and some other countries briefly suspended the use of the vaccine over fears of blood clots, and are resuming it after the European Medicines Agency gave its green light earlier Thursday.
France has so far recorded a total of 4,241,959 infections and 91,833 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).