France delays lockdown easing, imposes curfew

France's government announced on Thursday it would delay unwinding some Covid-19 lockdown restrictions next week, news wires reported. PM Jean Castex said the government would lift a restriction on people's movement from 15 December but replace it with an 8pm curfew, including on New Year's Eve. An exception will be made for Christmas Eve, he added.

Castex said that museums, theatres and cinemas would remain closed for an extra three weeks as the number of new Covid-19 infections begins to slowly rise again.

The situation has "considerably improved" since the country entered a second lockdown on 30 October, the prime minister said, noting that the number of new infections had fallen from nearly 50,000 a day in late October to around 10,000.

But the decline "has slowed over the past several days," Castex added. "We're on a sort of plateau ... We cannot let our guard down."

Health Minister Olivier Veran admitted that France would fall far short of its goal of a maximum 5,000 new cases per day by Tuesday, when the lockdown was scheduled to end. On Thursday, the country recorded nearly 14,000 infections over the previous 24 hours, compared with 12,000 a week earlier, he said. The total death toll in France since the beginning of the pandemic stands at over 55,000.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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