France imposes 6 pm curfews, tightens entry for non - EU travelers
France will impose nationwide curfews from 6 p.m. to become effective Jan. 16, and will tighten border controls, including in overseas territories, requiring negative COVID-19 test results for non-EU travelers, the prime minister announced.
Declaring new health measures at a news conference on Thursday, alongside other ministers, Jean Castex said the situation remains fragile because the virus continues to actively circulate across the country but does not require a new confinement as of now.
"Our situation remains worrying even if it has stabilized, we remain on a high plateau," especially with the new strains of the virus detected in the UK and South Africa, he said. Health Minister Olivier Veran said France has detected 200 to 300 new daily cases linked to the UK variant -- around 1-1.5 % of single-day COVID-19 infections.
If the health situation does not improve, new restrictions under the third lockdown could be activated, Castex noted, adding: "No department currently has an incidence rate of less than 50 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants," he said, necessitating the restrictions to fight the pandemic.
The 6 p.m. curfews will apply for at least two weeks. All commercial and business establishments must close at the new deadline with possible exceptions for those returning from work or picking up children from school.
Schools will remain open, although Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer declared that indoor sports practices will be suspended and school canteens will remain out of access for students who must eat at the table. He described the school canteens as "the weak link in the organization, since it is here that the masks are removed."
Earlier in the day, the health minister announced a health protocol in schools, ensuring 1 million tests to be carried out for school teachers and students to stem the virus's spread in schools.
From Jan. 18, all non-EU travelers entering France will have to present a negative test result and undergo self-isolation for seven days before taking another test.
Similarly, Castex announced that the overseas territories of Guyana, Mayotte, and Reunion as well as those in the West Indies "must be protected as much as possible from the risk variant circulating in the Amazon." The border controls will be strengthened here too, and travelers will be required to submit negative test results before entering.
For travelers from other EU countries, new travel rules are being worked out, with exceptions for cross-frontier workers, he said.
On the vaccination front, a total of 6.4 million French people were set to receive the jab on Monday and all high-risk patients with comorbidities irrespective of age will be inoculated, Castex said. As of Jan. 13, some 247,000 people were vaccinated in France.