The French President is thought to be on the verge of announcing another nationwide lockdown today.
Emmanuel Macron is set to address the nation at 8pm this evening to set out measures on how France will tackle the second wave of coronavirus.
The country is seeing a huge spike in infections, and it is feared the UK will soon see a similar pattern after its statistics mimicked France’s by a delay of two weeks during the first peak of the pandemic.
France is now reporting more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people each week, and nearly 18% of its tests are now coming back positive.
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It has reported Europe’s third-highest coronavirus death toll, at more than 35,000 lives lost.
Yesterday the country reported 523 deaths in 24 hours, which is the country’s highest daily death toll since April.
Doctors describe growing pressure on emergency services and intensive care wards, where Covid-19 patients now take up 54% of beds nationwide.
French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said: ‘Nobody disagrees with our objective, which is to absolutely prevent our hospitals being in a situation where they can’t admit new patients.’
It comes after France’s prime minister Jean Castex, top ministers and businesses have been holding emergency meetings as hospitals are filling up and doctors are pleading for help.
Interior minister Gerald Darmanin told France-Inter radio that ‘we should expect difficult decisions’.
Local media report the French government is planning a month-long new national lockdown.
But President Macron may instead introduce a new set of local measures and extend curfews across the country.
His office would not comment on what the new restrictions will involve, but it is believed they will be ‘more flexible’ than the full lockdown earlier on this year.
Sources suggest possible new measures could include lengthening existing curfews, full confinement on weekends or all week, and closing non-essential businesses.
Schools are thought to be allowed to remain open regardless of the new measures.
France was removed from the UK’s ‘travel corridor’ list in August, meaning people who travel from France and Brits returning from holiday must self-isolate for 14 days after arriving.
Anyone who travels to France will have to complete a ‘sworn statement’ form (déclaration sur l’honneur) to confirm they are not experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19, and has not been in contact with anyone who has tested positive in the last two weeks.
Self-isolation for those travelling from the UK is not currently required upon entry into France. But all of the country’s rules, including wearing face masks and sticking to curfews, must be followed by foreigners.
Curfews of 9pm have already been imposed on some of France’s largest cities – including Paris, Toulouse and Lyon – which is thought to have kept anti-lockdown protests at bay.
But other countries across Europe, particularly Italy, have seen protests turn violent such as in Rome, Turin and Milan.
The World Health Organisation has warned Europe is the new epicentre for the second wave of Covid-19, after Metro.co.uk reported daily case numbers in 22 European countries have reached a record high.
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