Three additional regions in France will join 16 already under strict restrictions, French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced Thursday.
“Epidemic pressure has reached alarming levels” in the regions of Nièvre, Rhône and Aube, Véran said.
A total of 19 regions in France will now be subjected to the strictest measures in the country. The strict measures are not quite a full lockdown, as schools remain open. However, nonessential stores are closed and people’s movement will be limited within a roughly six-mile radius unless compelling business or health reasons to travel further.
The entire country is following a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time. Working from home is encouraged as much as possible.
The health minister explained a stricter lockdown that would include the closure of schools was not considered at this stage saying, “First, the virus does not circulate everywhere in the same way and with the same intensity. For example, the Finistère region (Brittany) is ten times less affected than Seine Saint-Denis (Paris suburb),” he said.
Véran also said that “after a year of collective struggle,” they consulted local officials and considered “the acceptability of the measures by the population.”
“It is too early to judge whether the measures are effective and sufficiently effective. The measures decided last week could show their effects by this weekend at the earliest,” he added, indicating that currently there are 1,410 patients in intensive care in the Paris region.
“More than 45,000 French people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in these 24 hours,” Veran said, before adding, “There is an acceleration of the epidemic almost everywhere – the situation is the most worrying in the Paris region, in northern France and in the riviera region.”
He said people in intensive care are younger when compared to November and December, something he attributes to the new coronavirus variants.
Véran said that as of Thursday evening, more than 7 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 2.5 million have received both doses. “By mid-April, so within three weeks, we will have vaccinated more than 10 million people, a majority of the people most vulnerable to the virus,” he added.